Wednesday, June 23
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Coronavirus vaccine: Robin Swann statement on roll-out in Northern Ireland – Belfast Live

Health Minister Robin Swann has urged people to “remain ultra-vigilant” as he spoke about the roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said it was a “hugely significant day” for the country as the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was approved.

The approval was issued by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday morning and could be ready by next week.

A number of other vaccines are at various stages of development while another is currently being considered by MHRA.

Mr Swann said: “My department has plans and preparations in place to begin the roll-out. This is a hugely significant day for Northern Ireland and the news we were hoping for before Christmas. My thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to make it possible.

“It needs to be remembered that the vaccination process will be a major and long-running logistical exercise. Our rate of progress will depend on available supplies that will be distributed as part of a UK-wide programme.

“We will all need to be patient and allow the priority groups to receive their vaccination first.

“This not the end of the Coronavirus nightmare but it should represent the beginning of the end.”

It is planned to roll-out vaccination from this month, with the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) determining which population groups will receive the vaccine first. Completion of roll-out will take up much of 2021.

Health and social care workers – including care home staff – will be amongst the first priority groups, as will care home residents. Further groups will then be added to the programme throughout 2021 based on age and clinical vulnerability factors.

Mr Swann added: “I need to urge everyone to remain ultra-vigilant in the months ahead as each of us patiently await our turn. It is essential that we keep taking all the steps required to protect each other and stop the virus spreading.

“This does not mean that restrictions on our daily lives will be able to disappear anytime soon. There is still a very tough winter ahead for our health service and society.

“We need to think of vaccination as a long trek to freedom.

“Let’s all of us across Northern Ireland carry each other through this winter, doing all we can to ensure as many people as possible get to enjoy Christmas and live to see a better New Year.”

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