Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the latest landmarks in Northern Ireland's vaccination programme, as intensive efforts continue to provide booster doses as well as first and second doses.
The official tally for boosters has now passed the 400,000 mark, reflecting the sustained acceleration in the booster programme. The total will keep climbing, with Health Trust hubs, local pharmacies and GPs all providing boosters to those who are eligible.
Overall, our vaccination programme has now reached nine out of 10 adults in Northern Ireland. Vaccinators are reporting ongoing demand from previously unvaccinated people, and, as of today, 90% of people aged 18 and over have now received at least one jab. In total, 3,068,005 jabs have been delivered since the vaccination programme began just under a year ago.
This weekend, some 50 community pharmacies across Northern Ireland are intensifying the booster vaccination push with a series of clinics on Saturday and Sunday. These will involve a blend of walk-in clinics and vaccinations by appointment. This will complement the ongoing booster provision by a network of Health Trust hubs, Trust walk-in clinics, pharmacies and GPs. In line with current criteria, boosters are being offered to:
* people aged 50 and over who had their second doses at least three months ago;
* 40-49-year-olds who had their second doses at least six months ago. Eligibility for 40-49-year-olds will be gradually widened in the coming weeks reducing to the recommended three month interval.
The drive to get more unvaccinated people jabbed is also being maintained. The Health Trust hubs are also offering first and second doses to the 12 and over age group. Participating community pharmacies are likewise providing first and second doses to the 18 plus age bracket.
This weekend's pharmacy clinics will also offer first and second doses. For further details, check local pharmacies and social media channels for updates. Details may change in response to demand and local circumstances.
Information on the locations and opening times of the Health Trust vaccination hubs are available on health trust websites and on NI Direct..
The Health Minister stated: "A vaccination roll-out of this magnitude would be impressive at any time. To achieve it during the worst crisis in our health service's history is nothing short of remarkable. Let me again thank all those involved in this programme.
"Despite the grim pressures right across the health and social care system and the fact that staff are exhausted, all the stops are still being pulled out to deliver boosters as quickly as possible. I would encourage people to come forward for their boosters when they are eligible, and to be patient if it's not yet their turn.
"I also welcome the landmark of 90% landmark for people 18 and over receiving at least one jab. It has been a long road, but maintaining the work to reach unvaccinated people has been crucially important. With Trust hubs and community pharmacies continuing to offer first and second doses, we can push up the take-up rate even further."
The Minister added: "Given the continued high prevalence of COVID-19 in our community, it is essential that we maintain momentum in the booster and wider vaccination programme. This is the single best thing we can do to support our health service."