Mass coronavirus vaccination centres in NI to stop giving first shots

Northern Ireland reports 1,600 new infections and three further deaths linked to virus

Northern Ireland’s largest vaccination centre at the Odyssey SSE Arena. As the seven regional centres close for first doses, pharmacies are expanding their programme. File photograph: Getty

Northern Ireland’s largest vaccination centre at the Odyssey SSE Arena. As the seven regional centres close for first doses, pharmacies are expanding their programme. File photograph: Getty

 

Mass Covid-19 vaccination centres in Northern Ireland will no longer administer first shots after Saturday as the programme winds down.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health Robin Swann urged anyone who has yet to get a first vaccine to come forward in the coming days.

As the seven regional centres close for first doses, pharmacies are expanding their vaccination programme.

On Wednesday, three more deaths linked to the virus were reported in the North, bringing the total death toll since the outbreak began to 2,176.

A further 1,600 cases of the virus have been reported – up from 1,473 on Tuesday – bringing the overall number of positive cases since the pandemic began to 152,696.

Mr Swann said the latest surge in cases is resulting in a “marked increase in hospital admissions and an increase in demand for critical care”.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health confirmed there are 244 patients with the disease in hospitals, up one since Tuesday, of whom 32 are in intensive care.

“Placing this level of demand on our health service is not sustainable,” said Mr Swann. “It’s vital that people protect themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Our vaccination centres have done a fantastic job in rolling out the vaccination programme and will continue to administer second doses throughout August. However people will not be able to get a first dose jab at a vaccination centre after Saturday, July 31st.”

Adults and anyone who will turn 18 before October 31st do not need to make an appointment for the mass vaccination centres.

Hospital admissions

About 70 per cent of the adult population in the North is vaccinated fully.

But hospitals are struggling with rising admissions. The Belfast Trust reported that six in 10 coronavirus hospital admissions have not been jabbed.

Only 58.84 per cent of under-30s have received a first dose, according to latest figures.

While pharmacies are preparing to administer the Moderna vaccine alongside the AstraZeneca shot, mobile vaccination teams will continue to operate in the region.

Mr Swann said paediatricians are also working to identify children aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions, who are to be offered a vaccine in line with United Kingdom policy on inoculating younger people.

A “small number” of 12- to 15-year-olds who live with someone who is immunosuppressed will also be offered inoculation.