Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed that care home residents will be prioritised in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK on December 2, with the first consignment arriving in Northern Ireland two days later.
The vaccination programme will begin tomorrow morning, with vaccinators receiving the first injections.
The Minister said: “This will be a hugely important day and we can to look forward into next year with a degree of optimism. However, it needs to be stressed again and again that vaccination of the population is a massive undertaking that will take many months to complete.
“When it comes to clinical prioritisation, we will be closely guided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). It has identified care home residents as a top priority group.
“It is well documented that the logistical requirements for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine pose particular challenges for care home deployment.
“We have been working very hard on these issues, in consultation with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). I am pleased to be able to confirm that we are satisfied that deployment to care homes can now proceed in the coming days.
“The solution involves mobile teams operating from the different Trust vaccination centres located across the province.
“I know confirmation of these plans will be very welcome news for care home residents, their families and staff. We are currently considering how these arrangements might be extended to include over 80s in the community.”
Further details on vaccination prioritisation for health and social care staff will be confirmed tomorrow.
The Health Minister once again warned that the battle against Covid-19 is far from over.
“This is a time for patience and maximum vigilance. Progress on the vaccination programme will depend on available supply across the UK. The timescale for the approval of other vaccines will be an important factor.
“As clinical prioritisation rolls out, we will all have to await our turn and keep each other safe from the virus. Now is not the time to drop our guard, we still have many challenging months ahead.”