Covid-19 vaccination bookings open to 40-44 age group in NI

People aged 40 to 44 in Northern Ireland will now be able to make an appointment to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, the health minister has announced.

Robin Swann says bookings for that age group will open at midday on Thursday as part of the latest phase of the vaccination roll-out.

“Today’s extension of the vaccination programme will be very welcome news to people in this age group," the minister said.

“Vaccination is by far our best defence against Covid-19 and is essential to our goal of getting Northern Ireland out of lockdown on a sustainable basis."

Appointments can be booked online or, where this is not possible, via the number 0300 200 7813.

The Health Department says the ongoing roll-out of the vaccination programme will "continue to be dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies".

It says Northern Ireland's progress to date "would not have been possible without significant availability of AstraZeneca vaccines".

On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine "far outweigh" any potential risks for people aged 30 and over.

The department says, in line with this advice, people here aged 18-29 who do not have an underlying medical condition will be offered an alternative vaccine, when this is available.

It added: "It is very important that everyone who has already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine gets their second dose of the same vaccine, irrespective of age. 

"The only exception is for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts following their first dose."