Home of Ulster Rugby hosts vaccination drive as concerns rise over omicron variant

Kingspan stadium East Belfast

The home of Ulster Rugby has hosted a Covid-19 vaccination clinic as part of a drive to reach 12-17 year olds.

Kingspan Stadium was one of a number of venues across Northern Ireland which hosted clinics at the weekend as part of the Just the Jab campaign.

Ross Mawhinney, nurse in charge of the mobile vaccination centre at the Kingspan Stadium, said the location may have been a factor in bringing forward some of the young people at the weekend.

"It's absolutely fantastic that we've been able to use this facility to get as many people in through the door as we possibly can," he said. "There has been a fantastic response from the 12-17 year old age group coming here this morning.

"We had a small queue starting at 10am and we were able to progress through that queue quite quickly and a range of other people coming for their second doses, as well as some of the booster shots in the older population just taking advantage of being here with their child, they're within an eligible age group so they might as well while they're here, and we've been able to facilitate that which has been fantastic."

Mr Mawhinney said the pop-up clinics are being used to continue the vaccination programme rollout.

"Any extra capability that we can add to ensure that we're getting to as many people as we possibly can across the age continuum that are eligible is absolutely super to be able to achieve," he added.

Those aged 12-15 require an adult/guardian to accompany them to vaccine clinics to provide consent.

Further information on the vaccination programme can be found on the NI Direct website.

A further two deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 and another 1,482 cases of the virus were confirmed in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Malawi and Mozambique were added to Northern Ireland's travel red list from 4pm on Friday and Angola and Zambia will be included from 4am on Sunday.

They join the following countries already placed on the red list: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini.

It comes in response to the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant which the region's chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride has described as a "serious and concerning development".

He said: "Whilst it is highly likely that there will be cases of the variant in NI at some point, it is essential that preventative measures are taken to delay and/or reduce its incursion.

"This is a rapidly developing situation with the potential need for the addition of more countries to the red list in the coming days."

The department said Northern Ireland will align with the rest of the UK on PCR testing and self-isolation requirements for new arrivals.