‘Pop-up’ vaccine clinics planned for areas with low jab uptake
‘Pop-up’ coronavirus vaccine clinics will be set up in areas across Northern Ireland with low uptake, it has emerged.
The head of the vaccine programme, Patricia Donnelly, said areas such as Cookstown, Ballymena and Coleraine are under consideration.
Health Minister Robin Swann, meanwhile, urged people to come forward and get their jabs.
“Vaccination offers hope for the future and is our pathway out of this pandemic,” he said. “If you are in one of the eligible groups, book your vaccination today.”
The latest figures from his department show overall take-up rates of around 90% across all the cohorts called forward so far, with higher take-up rates for those aged over 60.
Ms Donnelly, speaking during a press briefing yesterday evening, 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 added: “We’ve always said that, if you can bring the vaccine closer to people, they’re more likely to take it.”
Meanwhile, it was also revealed during the press briefing that supplies of a new type of vaccine – one that Mr Swann said would “add another string to our bow” in the fight against coronavirus – won’t arrive in Northern Ireland until June.
The Moderna vaccine, which is being used widely in countries such as the USA and Canada, had been expected to bolster Northern Ireland’s supplies sooner.
It has also been used in limited numbers as part of the vaccine roll-out in Wales.
Currently, Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme is using two types of vaccine to protect people from coronavirus – one manufactured by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and another manufactured by the US company Pfizer.
Mr Swann said in March that supplies of Moderna were expected “within the next number of weeks”.
But when asked by the News Letter when the Moderna vaccines are due to arrive, Ms Donnelly said: “We’re not likely to get it until June.
“It will be one of those vaccines that can be used as an alternative to AstraZeneca, although we’re not currently including it in our plans because we have very modest amounts coming.”
She added: “You can’t really depend on it at this stage but we are likely to use it with the younger age group when it arrives.”
The latest figures from the Department of Health show one coronavirus fatality for the most recent 24-hour period, bringing the total to 2,137. The recent trend of a slight rise in cases has continued, with 116 positive tests yesterday for a weekly total of 808 – compared with 780 the week before.