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Vaccination Programme Cannot Continue Indefinitely

Northern Ireland’s current vaccination programme will not be available to the public indefinitely, Health Minister Robin Swann has warned.

The Minister said getting vaccinated will never be easier than it is at present.

He stressed that no one should put off getting the jab, thinking the current arrangements will always be there.

And he added: “Don’t be left behind – don’t miss out.”

The Health Minister explained: “The vaccination programme has been a huge logistical operation,” he said. “We set it up with the aim of offering all adults their first jab by July and this has been achieved.

“The right time to get your vaccine is right now. A new surge in Covid cases is underway and getting your jab will protect you and others. It will also help our health service cope, by pushing down infection numbers and hospital admissions.

“Getting your jab will never be easier or more accessible than it is right now. All our regional vaccination centres are offering walk-in jabs without the need for appointment. And mobile vaccination teams are visiting local towns to provide walk-in clinics.”

The Minister continued: “In the coming weeks, we will inevitably have to stand down aspects of the current programme. We will maintain some provision for people who belatedly change their minds and decide they want a jab after all. But it won’t be as convenient or as widely accessible as it is currently.

“We will have to start standing down the mass vaccination centres in August, with first doses there ending on 31st July. This will allow us to redeploy much-needed staff back into the health service. Also, the SSE Arena and the leisure centres that we’ve been using can’t be commandeered for vaccination use forever.

“Our GPs, meanwhile, are under intense pressure given the current levels of demand for care.

“Their vital role in the vaccination programme has shifted from first and second doses to preparing for the vaccine booster dose and the flu vaccine programme after the summer.

“Pharmacists will continue to play an essential role – including offering Moderna first and second doses from the end of July.

“However, the logistical requirements of Moderna mean the number of participating pharmacies will be more limited.”

The Minister concluded: “It is simply not possible to maintain a mass vaccination programme of this nature as a permanent feature of our health service. That is an unavoidable fact.

“I am not saying this to provoke alarm or concern. If you are worried about missing out on your jab, don’t be. The vaccination centres are waiting for you to walk in the door. They have first and second doses ready for you now. No appointment is required. Similarly, the programme of mobile vaccination clinics continues around the province and they are also offering walk-ins.

“Don’t be left behind – don’t miss out on the protection and opportunities that being double jabbed brings.”

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Stop and think this Farm Safety Week

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons are pictured with Derek and Ben Robinson and CEO of the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland, Robert Kidd, to promote Farm Safety Week.

This week marks the 9th annual Farm Safety Week and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons have met with farmer Derek Robinson whose son came close to losing his life when he was overcome with slurry fumes.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “Since January 2015 there have been 35 fatalities on farms in Northern Ireland and that is just too many.  It is vital that we encourage all those working in the farming industry to stop and think about farm safety. By taking some simple precautions we can reduce the number of people killed and injured on our farms.

 “As someone who has spent a lifetime working in the farming industry, I am well aware of the satisfaction and joy working on the farm can bring, but I also know that, all too quickly, it can turn into a nightmare if you aren’t careful with your equipment and your surroundings.

“I would encourage everyone to take the time now, to be extra careful and vigilant. It is vital that farmers pause and think about what they are doing before beginning work with livestock, machinery or slurry.”

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons are pictured with farmer Derek Robinson and his son Ben Robinson to promote Farm Safety Week. Ben was overcome with slurry fumes, but has now made a full recovery.

Farm Safety Week is an awareness raising event that sees the Farm Safety Partnerships, Farm Safety Foundation, Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority Ireland joining forces to drive the fundamental message of safety within the agricultural community home.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons added: “Farm Safety Week is significant in helping to focus attention on farm safety and the measures that can be taken to ensure everyone is kept safe and out of harm’s reach.

“Derek’s story is important in that it highlights the fact that while many farms are work places they are also family homes bringing additional risks and considerations. With school summer holidays upon us it is critical we are even more mindful of children on the farm and ensure all is done to avoid accidents and injury.”

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Stay Safe During Hot Weather

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have encouraged everyone to stay safe and look out for others during the current spell of very hot weather.

Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill were speaking after the Met Office issued the first ever warning for extreme heat here.

Executive departments and civil contingency agencies are working to mitigate any potential impacts to health, wellbeing and public services.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “After a difficult time for the whole community, it is understandable that people want to be out and about across Northern Ireland during this period of hot, dry weather.  We want everyone to enjoy the sunshine, but it is very important that everyone does it safely.

Extreme heat can have serious consequences for people’s health, public services and the environment. So we ask everyone to take steps to protect themselves. Don’t take risks that could potentially be dangerous for you, your family or the wider community.”


Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We have been experiencing an unprecedented heatwave and temperatures here are set to escalate even further in the coming days. It is vitally important that we all follow the advice that will help to keep everyone safe.

“Of course many people are keen to experience the good weather, but we ask everyone to take care of themselves, and others so that no one comes to any harm as a result of the extreme heat. Please check in on anyone who might be more vulnerable, including older family, friends and neighbours.”


Information and advice for people during the extreme heat warning is available at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/news/extreme-heat-warning-information-and-advice

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