By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
The Covid-19 vaccination programme in the North has opened for everyone aged 18 and over.
More than one million people in the region have now had at least one dose of the vaccine – more than 70 per cent of the adult population – and more than 625,000 (40 per cent) have received two doses.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted that our vaccination programme is now open to all adults in Northern Ireland.
“I know this will be very welcome news for young people who have been waiting patiently for their turn to get the jab.
“Today’s announcement is another important milestone in the drive to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can, so that we can see a return to normality.
“The tremendous success of the vaccination programme has brought great hope and has helped to enable the recent further easing of restrictions.
“The expansion of the vaccination programme, well ahead of schedule, to everyone aged 18 and over is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved in delivering the vaccine throughout Northern Ireland.”
From Thursday, anyone aged under 40 can book their vaccination at a trust centre in order to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said: “I know that many young people will be very keen to book their jab now that they’re eligible for vaccination.
“It’s important to understand that while the risk of severe disease is lower in young people, some may become very ill and, of course, they can pass on the virus to others who may be more vulnerable.
“We’re dealing with the emergence of new variants and we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe.
“I would urge everyone aged 18 and over to book a slot for vaccination, including those in older age groups who have not yet stepped forward.”