Covid-19: Over 400,000 people in North have at least one vaccine dose

Department confirms additional 341 Covid-19 cases as Swann hails vaccine progress

Northern Ireland Minister of Health Robin Swann said the 2,000 deaths milestone was as a harsh reminder that the battle against the virus is far from over. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

More than 400,000 people in Northern Ireland have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to a breakdown of vaccination data published on Tuesday by the North's Department of Health.

The Department said that far 438,708 vaccines have been administered, which includes 409,507 first doses and 29,201 second doses.

Those who have received first doses include 94 per cent of over 80-year-olds, or 67,824 people, and 88 per cent - 54,730 - of those aged between 75-79.

In the 70-74 age group 60,827 people, or 75 per cent, have received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, as have 62 per cent (55,688) of those aged between 65 and 69.


An appointment booking service for people who are regarded as clinically extremely vulnerable and who have received a “shielding” letter from the Department opened earlier this week. So far 21,821 people, or 23 per cent of those in this category, have so far been vaccinated, with many are in the 65 plus age group and therefore included in that part of the vaccination programme.

Of the remaining six per cent of people over 80 who have yet to be vaccinated, the Department said a “significant” number are people who are confined to their homes or in hospital. “Their vaccinations are proceeding, with GPs and district nurses both involved in this work,” the Department said.

On Tuesday the Department reported the deaths of a further nine people with Covid-19 in the North, bringing the death toll to 2,009. An additional 341 people tested positive for the virus.

The North's Minister for Health, Robin Swann, said maintaining the good progress made by the vaccination programme meant people should continue to come forward.

“Like many others, I’m patiently waiting my turn and when it comes, I won’t have to be asked twice,” he said.

Northern Ireland is operating a “twin-track” approach to vaccination, with some vaccines administered by GPs and some at regional centres operated by health trusts.

Those aged 70 or over will be contacted by their GP and given an appointment. People aged between 65-69, or who have received a shielding letter, can book a vaccine at a Trust centre.

Schools reopening

Meanwhile the North’s minister for education has said a definitive decision will be made “soon” on the reopening of schools in Northern Ireland. Most schools are currently closed until March 8th.

The North’s executive is due to discuss the reopening of schools when it meets on Thursday to review the coronavirus restrictions which have been in place since St Stephen’s Day.

Peter Weir told BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra that the aim was “to make movement as irreversible as possible, that once we see pupils back they remain back in, we don’t want to see a situation where pupils are going in and out.”

He said the executive would want to consider “what the best route map for that is”, and there was a balance to be struck between “seeing where we are in terms of the public health situation but also giving schools, giving parents, giving pupils where possible a little bit of notice in that regard.”

The head of the North's Covid-19 vaccination programme, Patricia Donnelly, urged those who have been asked to book a vaccination appointment to do so as soon as possible.

“Vaccination on this scale is unprecedented and was always going to be a marathon not a sprint,” she said.

So far 205,555 doses of vaccine have been administered by GPs and 233,153 by trusts.

“We need people to keep coming forward to get their jabs. When we start our programme of second dose vaccinations, appointments for first doses will not be just as easy to obtain. If you are eligible, the best time to get booking is now,” Ms Donnelly said.

On Monday, Mr Swann said the 2,000 deaths milestone was a harsh reminder that the battle against the virus is far from over.

Mr Swann said: “We must not forget that behind every death will be a family left in grief.

“I want to extend my sincere condolences to every family mourning the loss of a loved one.

“Sadly, we know this virus has the potential to take more lives so it remains as important as ever to be vigilant and follow all the public health advice.

“Today serves as another harsh reminder that we cannot be complacent.”

Mr Swann hailed progress in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines in Northern Ireland but he warned people not to get ahead of themselves.

“As I have said before, this is a complex and long-term undertaking and it will be some time before the vaccination programme is rolled out to the majority of the population,” he said.

“I’m very aware of the sacrifices that the people of Northern Ireland have made over the course of the last year and the collective effort to make the current lockdown effective.

“We are now beginning to see the outworking of those sacrifices in a lowering of infection rates but again I must urge caution. We need to sustain this reduction in transmission to preserve life and support our health service.” – Additional reporting: PA

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times