Coronavirus: Still time to get fully vaccinated before Christmas, says Health Minister

Robin Swann has urged anyone not already vaccinated to get the Covid-19 jab before Christmas.

The Health Minister has made a fresh plea for anyone as yet unvaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19, as he announced that 130 local pharmacies had signed up to provide the Moderna vaccine to anyone aged 18 and over who has not been vaccinated.

"I am delighted that a large number of community pharmacists are on board for this phase. They will now be taking the lead role in providing first doses.

"Every single jab administered in Northern Ireland is important, every single dose makes a difference," the Health Minister said.

"Anyone coming forward for their first dose now will still have time for their second jab before Christmas," he said.

"They can enjoy the festive season with the added and vital protection that vaccination gives - both for them and people close to them."

Over 2.5 million jabs have so far been delivered in Northern Ireland, with 89% of the adult population now vaccinated with at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Health officials are hoping that the new plan will push that rate above 90%, amid some concerns about a lower vaccine uptake rate in Northern Ireland.

They also hope to see the number of pharmacies involved in the scheme increase in the coming weeks.

On Sunday, another 892 cases of the virus were confirmed by the Department of Health.

Chief executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene, said the plan was "tremendously important".

"As we enter into the winter period, it is even more vital that we all get vaccinated to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our health service which is already under huge strain," Mr Greene said.

Mr Greene also called on anyone eligible for a flu vaccine in Northern Ireland to get one.