Swann hails vaccine take-up initiatives

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Health Minister Robin Swann has hailed the importance of localised initiatives to further improve Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination uptake.

A push to offer vaccinations in rural areas has led to more than 1,600 jabs being administered.

Meanwhile, a branch of the Boots pharmacy chain has held walk-in vaccinations at a community pharmacy, without the need for an appointment. The walk-in facility at the Ballyholme branch in Bangor was organised locally as a pilot and will hopefully be replicated across other pharmacies in NI. It was held on Friday past and a further walk-in facility is planned.

The rural take-up initiative involved the Farm Families Health Checks Programme working in partnership with the Trust-led mobile vaccine programme. The Farm Families Health Checks Programme is an innovative public health regional programme, led by the Northern Trust and funded by DAERA and the Public Health Agency. It is a one stop mobile facility offering free health assessments and advice to those attending local markets and community events in rural areas. It has been teaming up with the Health Trusts to help with vaccination clinics in targeted rural areas where vaccine uptake has been lower, resulting in a total of 1617 jabs being administered.

A further Farm Families/Western Trust clinic takes place this evening (Monday, October 18) in St Ninnidh’s Parish Hall in Derrylin from 5.00pm – 9.00pm.

Community pharmacies are now taking the lead role in providing first dose Covid vaccinations. After tonight, as part of their ongoing work, the Farm Families Health Checks Programme will be encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to attend their local community pharmacy to get jabbed.

The Health Minister stated: “I want to express my gratitude to everyone working hard to get more people vaccinated. While the Covid booster programme is vitally important this winter, we also need to keep reaching people who have not yet come forward for their first dose. The numbers involved are inevitably smaller than at earlier stages of the vaccination programme, but they are still making a difference. As I keep saying – every single jab counts.

“The Farm Families Health Checks Programme has undoubtedly played its part, underlining once again its importance as a public health programme for rural areas.

“I also very much welcome the initiative by the Boots branch in Bangor to pilot vaccination walk-ins at a community pharmacy.

“This is going to be an incredibly busy period for vaccinations – with Covid boosters, school-based Covid vaccination and flu jabs being provided, along with the ongoing first Covid jabs. Vaccination is a monumental effort across the health and social care family and a huge logistical undertaking. On behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, I say thank you to everyone involved.”

* For more details on participating pharmacies offering vaccine appointments in your area, visit NI Direct(external link opens in a new window / tab) or check out this interactive map(external link opens in a new window / tab):

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