COVID-19: ‘No more first doses of vaccine in Northern Ireland after July’, says health minister

First doses of the COVID vaccine will end at Northern Ireland's mass vaccination centres on 31 July, says minister of health, Robin Swann.

Northern Ireland’s health minister, Robin Swann, revealed in a recent statement that the vaccination programme will not be available indefinitely.

New surge in COVID cases

Swann said there has been a ‘new surge in COVID cases’ and now is the right time to get vaccinated.

As of Monday afternoon, 2,168,431 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Northern Ireland. Out of those, 1,185,869 were first doses and 982,562 were second doses.

The Department of Health is currently operating a number of walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics across Northern Ireland this week.

The appointment-free pop-ups were established as part of a ‘final nudge’ to get younger people vaccinated.

Vaccination concerns

On Tuesday morning, Northern Ireland's chief scientific officer Prof Ian Young confirmed that he had serious concerns about the acceptance of vaccination. He said:

There's still about 18% of adults who have not come forward for their first dose of their vaccine,
And that means 18% who are just as susceptible to the most severe effects of COVID as they were earlier in the epidemic.

Prof Young said he was also very concerned about the rise in cases and hospitalisations in Northern Ireland. He concluded:

Pressures on our hospitals have been very significant all through the summer for multiple reasons.
Certainly adding a significantly increased number of COVID admissions on top of that is going to bring considerable pressures to bear and I know our hospitals are thinking carefully about how they can best manage and cope with that as we go through the next six to eight weeks.
Unfortunately I think that there will be some increases in deaths, which is inevitable as a result of a very large number of cases leading to quite a large number of hospitalisations and patients in critical care.
But the number of deaths, the proportion of deaths from COVID, will be much less than in previous waves of the epidemic as a result of the impacts of vaccination and of improved treatments, which have gradually come into place during the last 18 months.
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