‘Big Jab Weekend’ announced to boost North’s vaccination drive

This weekend will be last chance for adults to get first dose at mass vaccination centre

Anyone aged 18 and over can book a Moderna vaccine first dose appointment at participating community pharmacies. Photograph: Hassene Dridi/AP Photo

Anyone aged 18 and over can book a Moderna vaccine first dose appointment at participating community pharmacies. Photograph: Hassene Dridi/AP Photo

 

The North’s Department of Health has announced a “Big Jab Weekend” to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The promotion on August 21st-22nd will see mass vaccination centres in Northern Ireland again offering walk-in first jabs for all adult age groups.

This is in addition to ongoing vaccinations at walk-in pop-up clinics, and at participating community pharmacies.

Mass vaccination centres, such as at the SSE Arena in Belfast, will soon be winding down their work after nine months.

They stopped offering first doses to the general population at the end of July, but are returning to that role this weekend.

“The Big Jab Weekend” will be the last chance for anyone aged 18 and over to get their first jab at a mass vaccination centre.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “We want to offer people as many opportunities as possible to get the jab. There is still demand for vaccination - the take-up at walk-in clinics demonstrates that.

“No appointment will be needed at the vaccination centres this weekend or at the ongoing walk-in clinics — just turn up and get your jab at a time that suits you.

“Vaccination is saving lives. When we get jabbed, we are protecting ourselves, protecting others and protecting the health service.

“It is the single biggest contribution people can make to getting normality back. It helps opens doors to nights out, travel, music and sports events and to so many other things we have missed so much in the last 18 months.”

Walk-in clinics

Ahead of the weekend promotion, anyone aged 16 and over can get their first dose at local walk-in clinics across Northern Ireland, and 16 and 17-year-olds will continue to be able to get Pfizer vaccine first jabs every day at the mass vaccination centres.

Anyone aged 18 and over can book a Moderna vaccine first dose appointment at participating community pharmacies.

The number of pharmacies offering first dose appointments has been expanded to 48.

The Department of Health is organising social media promotion and advertising to raise public awareness of the Big Jab Weekend.

Patricia Donnelly, head of Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme, said: “I want to thank vaccination teams for this latest initiative and for their incredible dedication and enthusiasm ever since the programme began.

“The current phase of our vaccination programme will be drawing to a close in the coming weeks.

“The mass vaccination centres will be winding down by the end of this month as the buildings return to their normal use.

“There will still be opportunities to get vaccinated — for instance at community pharmacies and through forthcoming targeted initiatives. However, these opportunities will be inevitably more limited, as the focus of the programme switches to booster jabs.” – PA