More than third of NI adults have had both doses of Covid vaccine
Nearly half-a-million people in Northern Ireland, more than a third of the entire adult population, has now had two coronavirus vaccine doses.
Health Minister Robin Swann said the vaccination programme has “already saved many lives”.
The latest figures from Mr Swann’s department show that 493,553 people have now had both doses.
And with thousands of jabs being administered each day, it is likely the half-million milestone will be passed within days.
The figures mean that already one-in-three of the 1.4 million adults in Northern Ireland have now been fully vaccinated.
But Mr Swann has warned that with “normality on the horizon” thanks to the success of the programme, it is important that uptake rates amongst those still to receive the vaccine – largely those in the younger age groups – remain high.
He was speaking at the launch of a new public information campaign to encourage people to take up the opportunity of a vaccine.
“Our vaccination programme has already saved many lives, and is protecting our loved ones and bringing down infection rates to a point where we can see normality on the horizon,” the minister said.
“However, as we start to see restrictions easing this is exactly the time when we must make sure that we don’t see an easing off in our vaccine uptake rates.”
He added: “Vaccines are helping us get back to doing the things we have missed – they protect you and those around you.
“This new campaign is a poignant reminder of some of the things we have to look forward to as a society.”
The campaign will feature advertisements on TV, radio, social media and outdoor spaces. It is designed to target younger age groups.
A spokesperson for Mr Swann’s department said: “Some younger people may need more convincing to get the jab, believing themselves to be at less risk from the virus. The information campaign highlights the fact that getting vaccinated protects you and others – and helps us all get back to enjoying important activities that have been halted by the pandemic.”
Last week, it was confirmed that people aged under 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns about blood clotting.
There have been five suspected cases of blood clot cases linked to one of the jabs being rolled out in Northern Ireland.
The five cases were drawn from a total of 550,000 people given the AstraZeneca vaccine up to April 28.
In a statement to the BBC, the Department of Health said the AstraZeneca vaccine had already saved lives around the world. “The adverse reactions following the Oxford-AstraZeneca first dose are extremely rare,” the department continued.