Over a million people in Northern Ireland have now received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose, the government said in an update on Tuesday (May 18).
This means almost 70 per cent of the adult population has now received their first dose at various Covid-19 vaccination centres including over 300 pharmacy premises.
The milestone has been reached some five months after the very first Covid-19 vaccine jab was administered in NI.
It also comes just days after another landmark was achieved – with more than half a million already getting their second jab.
Health minister Robin Swann said: “I cannot praise our vaccination programme too highly. It is a massive logistical undertaking and I have seen up close the dedication and the long hours that have been invested in making it work.
“Vaccination saves lives. It is vital to our hopes of a better summer and of continuing progress against the virus. It has been central to the progress we have made.
“I would again urge everyone to get their first and second jabs when their turn comes. I am certainly looking forward to getting my second AstraZeneca jab in the coming weeks.”
The head of the vaccination programme, Patricia Donnelly, said: “We are determined to maintain momentum and will keep vaccinating people as quickly as supplies allow.
“As we have stated, supplies are limited at present, but we expect that to improve in June. I would once again ask people waiting their turn to be patient. Keep checking the online booking portal as new appointment slots are being opened up on a regular basis.”
The people aged 40 or over can book their AstraZeneca first doses at the vaccination centre at the SSE Arena and at more than 300 participating pharmacies across Northern Ireland, the government said.
The people aged 30-39 can book their Pfizer first dose at Trust vaccination centres across Northern Ireland. The Covid-19 vaccination sites include Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Centre, Lakeland Forum, South Lake Craigavon, Seven Towers Ballymena, and RVH in Belfast.
Anyone of any age who has received an AstraZeneca first dose have been suggested to proceed with their second dose of AstraZeneca. “That’s unless they have had clinical advice not to do so. Second doses provide longer and stronger protection against the virus,” the government said.
The age categorisation for AstraZeneca first doses recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) does not apply to second doses. The JCVI has stressed that the second dose is important for longer lasting protection against Covid-19.
People aged under 40 will still be able to make an informed choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.