Covid-19: 90% of adults in North at least partially vaccinated

Health staff reporting ‘ongoing demand from previously unvaccinated people’

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer  Michael McBride receives his Covid-19 booster jab from community pharmacist Peter Rice (left) at the Houben Centre in Belfast on November 24th. Phootgraph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Michael McBride receives his Covid-19 booster jab from community pharmacist Peter Rice (left) at the Houben Centre in Belfast on November 24th. Phootgraph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

Nine out of 10 adults in the North have now been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health announced on Thursday that 90 per cent of adults over 18 had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Vaccinators were reporting “ongoing demand from previously unvaccinated people”, the Department said.

Northern Ireland has expanded its booster programme due to the Omicron variant, and walk-in vaccination clinics will be available at community pharmacies this weekend for groups eligible for the booster vaccine and for first and second doses.

The North’s Minister for Health, Robin Swann, said it was “remarkable” that a “vaccination roll-out of this magnitude” had been achieved during “the worst crisis in our health service’s history.”

Meanwhile, the DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has warned Covid-19 is “no joking matter” and defended the DUP’s “clear” position after it faced criticism for mixed messaging on Covid rules.

He said he would speak to party colleagues about the importance of sticking to the rules and said he wanted “all of my colleagues to follow the guidance, the public health advice and to encourage others to do likewise.”

Earlier this week three DUP MPs voted in the House of Commons against mandatory mask wearing indoors in England, and the East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson was criticised for a tweet which appeared to joke about Covid-19 rules and claimed Omicron was a “mild” variant of the virus.

‘Miserably we sigh’

“Ding dong merrily on high will be replaced this Christmas by ping-dong miserably we sigh,” Mr Wilson wrote. “I will vote against new restrictions in Parliament today. They are not proportionate to deal with the spread of the mild Omicron variant.”

Asked by reporters to respond to Mr Wilson’s tweet, Mr Donaldson said “people have died from Covid, that is clear, and I think it is incumbent upon all public representatives to support public health messaging to ensure that we all take the steps that are necessary to protect ourselves and each other.”

He also said the DUP’s position on mask-wearing was “clear” that “we encourage people to wear face coverings” and it was too early to know how serious the Omicron variant might be.

“We need to understand better what this variant means, and it is vital that we continue to follow the public health guidance,” he said.

The DUP leader also encouraged people to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves, each other and the health service.

Ministers were briefed by the North’s medical and scientific advisers on the emergence of the Omicron variant at a meeting of the Northern Executive on Thursday.

Following the meeting they described the emergence of the new strain as a “serious and concerning development worldwide” but said there was “no need for alarm”.

No cases of the Omicron variant have yet been confirmed in the North, but they said this was “likely to change in the coming days” and the time should be used “wisely” to try and reduce infection rates.

On Thursday, the North’s Department of Health reported the deaths of a further two people with Covid-19, and 2,272 new cases of the virus.

Hospitals in Northern Ireland were treating 324 patients with Covid-19, with 30 in intensive care.