Michael McBride: Extremely vulnerable should all be vaccinated by early next month

The clinically extremely vulnerable should all be vaccinated by early next month, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer has said.

Michael McBride
Michael McBride

Appointments for people with conditions like some cancers have to be carefully planned because their needs can be complex.

Some people receiving chemotherapy may need to have their treatment adjusted, Dr Michael McBride added.

“We are making massive progress, we are rolling out the vaccine,” he said, with the over-80s group almost completed.

Dr McBride told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show: “I am confident that we will have completed over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable through February and perhaps into early March.

“There is a huge number of clinically extremely vulnerable.”

Those at particularly high risk from coronavirus include recipients of organ transplants, people undergoing radiotherapy, or those with a severe lung condition like cystic fibrosis.

Dr McBride said the health service is making significant progress in inoculating the over-65.

He added: “We are ahead of schedule, it is a tribute to everyone involved.”

There have been instances of people who are ineligible trying to book appointments by telephone and then abusing staff when turned down.

Dr McBride added: “Please be patient, we will get to you.

“We will get this vaccine to you as quickly as we possibly can, subject to the supply of vaccine.”

The Department of Health said on Friday that people who received a shielding letter because they are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 can now book a vaccination appointment.

The appointments will be available at the seven regional vaccination centres across the province.

A total of 381,894 jabs have been administered so far, head of the programme Patricia Donnelly said.

She urged those in the priority groups to come forward without delay.

Online and telephone booking for those aged 65-69 were introduced late last month, with a surge of initial appointments made.

Demand has slowed since then.

The department is advising that some slots are still available for the coming days.