‘GET your vaccines now while they are readily accessible’ is the clear message that Health Minister, Robin Swann has expressed to the public this week.
Stressing that no-one should put off getting the job, the Health Minister said that getting vaccinated will ‘never be easier than it is at present’.
He further warned that the North’s current vaccination programme will not be available to the public indefinitely, with mass vaccination centres standing down from August.
Protect yourself and others
“The vaccination programme has been a huge logistical operation,” the Health Minister said. “We set it up with the aim of offering all adults their first jab by July, and this has been achieved.
“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.”
‘Not as convenient’
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 July 31.
“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.”
He added, “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.
“The right time to get your vaccine is right now.”
How to get your vaccine:
The Western Health and Social Care Trust have organised a pop-up walk-in vaccination clinic this Thursday in the Alley Theatre, Strabane and Conference Centre, Strabane, for people who would like to get their first dose of the vaccine.
The clinics will run from 4pm to 8pm, and are open to all residents of the North. It will administer first dose Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines. Don’t forget to bring your ID.
The roll out is part of ongoing efforts by the Western Trust to encourage people aged over 18-years-old to get vaccinated by making the vaccination process more accessible and convenient.
Full details of the Western Trust’s vaccination programme, including walk-in and pop-up clinic details can be found at: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/
Make a scheduled appointment
The Trust would also remind everyone over 18 that if you don’t want to risk waiting at a walk in session, you can make a scheduled appointment at one of their Mass Vaccination Centres directly by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.
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