Anyone expecting second dose of Covid vaccine in NI ‘will get it’

The Stormont Health Committee has heard that anyone expecting a second dose of the Covid vaccine in NI will get it.

By Gemma Murray
Thursday, 18th March 2021, 10:55 am

Patricia Donnelly Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination programme told the committee that anyone expecting a second dose will get it “as we do have vaccine reserved for that”.

She added that the reduction in supplies to the UK will push the rollout of the programme for those in the under 50 age group back about two weeks.

Ms Donnelly said she was aware of the delay in the rollout of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, adding that plans have been “adjusted accordingly”.

She told the Committee: “Anyone who has had a booking, it will be honoured, anyone who is expecting a second dose, we have vaccine reserved for that.”

She added that it is hoped some first doses will still be administered during April.

Yesterday NHS England warned there could be a “significant reduction” in the number of doses available in April.

Earlier speaking on the Stephen Nolan Show r Alan Stout, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland general practitioners committee, said “there is not enough vaccine in Northern Ireland at present to cover all second doses”.

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Later in a statement he said: “It is frustrating but perhaps unsurprising that there are potential issues with the supply of covid vaccines across the UK.

“From the outset the pace of the vaccination programme has depended on the supply. It is crucial that the Department of Health provide timely updates on vaccine supply, especially to primary care who are a central cog in the delivery of the vaccine programme to patients across Northern Ireland.

“It is also important to remember that the vast majority of those most at risk have already been given their first dose and the vaccination programme is ahead of schedule in Northern Ireland. This is a UK-wide problem, however I am hopeful that Department of Health will address this issue as a matter of urgency. Practices remain fully committed to vaccinating their patients as quickly as they possibly can.”

And last night on Twitter Health Minister Robin Swann posted: “We are currently considering what impact if any the announcement today on vaccine supplies might have on our programme.

A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

“Our vaccination programme will continue in the coming weeks and more people will continue to receive first and second doses.

“As has been the case since the programme began, the number of vaccinations carried out over time will vary due to supply however our programme is presently ahead of schedule and as ever we will be able to adapt to any changes in circumstances as they arise.”

Earlier he confirmed community pharmacies will start vaccinating people later this month.

“The vaccination programme will continue in the coming weeks and more people will continue to receive first and second doses,” the Department of Health said in a statement.

“As has been the case since the programme began, the number of vaccinations carried out over time will vary due to supply.

“However, the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland is presently ahead of schedule and as ever we will be able to adapt to any changes in circumstances as they arise.”

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the Government had learned of coronavirus vaccine supply issues “in the last few days”, and suggested the problem is not due to reductions from a single nation.

The Housing Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have learned from some of our manufacturers that there are going to be some supply issues in the last few days.

“A number of global manufacturers are experiencing issues.”

Pressed if the issue was vaccine coming from India, he said: “It’s not that there’s any one factory responsible for this or any one country.”

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