‘Pop-up’ coronavirus vaccine clinics planned to tackle low uptake

‘Pop-up’ coronavirus vaccine clinics will be set up in Northern Ireland to tackle low uptake, it has emerged.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 10:31 pm
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 24th March 2021 Patricia Donnelly, Head of the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme in Northern Ireland. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The head of the vaccine programme, Patricia Donnelly, said areas such as Cookstown, Ballymena and Coleraine are under consideration.

She was speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday evening.

The latest figures from her department show overall take-up rates of around 90% across all the cohorts that have been called forward to date, with higher take-up rates for those aged over 60.

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Ms Donnelly said: “We are planning some pop-up vaccination clinics in areas that are known to have low uptake, and that’s already in an advanced stage of planning - particularly in the northern and southern trusts who are the pilot areas for this.”

She later identified Cookstown in Co Tyrone, Ballymena in Co Antrim and Coleraine in Co Londonderry as some of the areas under consideration.

She continued: “Our vaccination programme continues to make significant progress. The latest figures show that 89.5% of people aged 50 and over have received their first vaccination. This means that those age groups most vulnerable to this virus will now have some level of protection. The positive news continues when we look at the overall adult population and see that well over half of our adult population have received their first vaccine and almost 300,000 people have received both doses.

“The pace at which we have been able to move through the cohorts and our ability to extend eligibility to a number of groups ahead of the original schedule is very welcome. But we must remain mindful that future progress is dependent on vaccine supply.

“Currently anyone over 35 is eligible for vaccination, with slots mainly available at the SSE Arena although additional slots at other vaccination centres should be available shortly. There is no need to wait for an invitation, I would encourage people not to delay and book an appointment today. The sooner you get your vaccination, the sooner you will be able to benefit.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “Vaccinations are currently offered through the regional vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies. People are reminded that they should attend the same location for their first and second doses of the vaccination. The only exception is for those who attended the Ulster Hospital for their first dose and are due to receive their second dose on or after Monday 26 April. These appointments will now all take place at the vaccination centre at The SSE Arena.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “This week we will see the further easing of restrictions, which is to be welcomed, but we must not forget how important it is that we all play our part in maintaining the progress we have made.

“This means following all the public health advice and getting vaccinated when your time comes. Vaccination offers hope for the future and is our pathway out of this pandemic. If you are in one of the eligible groups, book your vaccination today.