By Rebecca Black, PA
Northern Ireland’s health minister, Robin Swann, has urged everyone eligible for a coronavirus jab to come forward for it.
The minister, aged 49, received his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab at a Ballee Pharmacy in Ballymena, Co Antrim on the day the rollout was expanded to his age group.
The vaccination programme was widened on Wednesday to include the 45-49 age group.
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) March 31, 2021
Mr Swann emphasised the importance of as many getting vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“Today I came to community pharmacy and got the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine which is the one we are using mainly across Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It is important that we get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, that’s why we are putting such a concerted effort into this programme, and that’s why we’re seeing such a great uptake across Northern Ireland from those eligible.
“For those people who are still hesitant, I am confident enough to come here today to take Oxford AstraZeneca because my age profile now fits in, so when yours does as well, I’ll ask anyone, please come forward.
“There are booking slots, we’re making them available across Northern Ireland, at regional centres, GPs and community pharmacy as well.”
By Wednesday 887,598 vaccines had been administered in the region, 749,112 of which were first doses and 138,486 were second doses.
All those who are eligible can book to receive their jab at a vaccination centre or participating community pharmacy, as well as the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their jab.
First Minister Arlene Foster received her vaccine in Co Fermanagh last weekend.
Earlier this week saw the opening of a mass vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast as well as almost 350 community pharmacies joining the programme.
Booking where possible should be done online at: covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated
If online booking is not possible, then the telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813.