First 25,000 doses of new coronavirus vaccine arrive in Northern Ireland
Inoculation programme set to begin next week with vaccinators to get jab first
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will initially be used to inoculate the teams of more than 800 vaccinators followed by priority groups, beginning with frontline health and social care workers. File Photograph: Hans Pennink/AP Photo
The first 25,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday ahead of the beginning of the vaccination programme next week.
The North’s Minister for Health, Robin Swann, said the delivery of the first batch of the vaccine had been anticipated for many months, and was “hugely welcome.”
It is understood the first recipient will be a vaccinator who is also involved in the administration of the vaccine rollout. They are to receive the jab on Tuesday morning.
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will initially be used to inoculate the teams of more than 800 vaccinators followed by priority groups, beginning with frontline health and social care workers.
Further details on prioritisation will be confirmed next week, Mr Swann said.
Healthcare workers in the North will be able to get the vaccine this month at seven locations, two on hospital grounds and the remainder in leisure centres.
They will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week in order to vaccinate 100,000 healthcare and care home staff.
Care home residents and people aged over 80 are also in the first priority vaccination group.
It is hoped that regulatory approval for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could clear the way for care home residents to receive this brand of the vaccine, which does not come with the same storage and batch size constraints as the Pfizer vaccine.
Six further coronavirus-related deaths were reported by the North’s Department of Health (DoH) on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalities recorded by the Department to 1,032. A further 449 people tested positive for the disease.
Figures published earlier on Friday showed that Covid-19 has been recorded on the death certificates of more than 1,400 people.
The data, compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra), includes all deaths where coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate by a medical professional, but the individual may or may not have tested positive for the virus.
Their figures are higher than those recorded in the Covid-19 bulletin released daily by the Department, which includes only those who have tested positive for Covid-19.
This week the death toll recorded by the department passed 1,000.
However the Nisra figures also demonstrated an improvement in the number of fatalities for the first time since early October. According to the data coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate of 81 deaths in the week until November 27th, compared to 100 the week before.
Additional reporting - PA.