NORTHERN Ireland's five Health and Social Care Trusts will start offering staff vaccination clinics from the beginning of this week as part of a phased programme.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said Sunday night: “All staff working in Health and Social Care will be able to get the vaccination in line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
“However, as supplies of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine are limited at this stage, we need to prioritise who will get the vaccine in the next few weeks.
“Staff should wait to be called forward by their respective Trust.
“Trusts will be advising staff when and how they will receive the Covid-19 vaccine and I would urge all staff who are eligible at this stage to take up the offer as quickly as possible.”
Dr McBride said the initial priority for vaccination will be those staff working closely with patients who are considered to be most at risk.
All staff will be offered the vaccine in due course, he said.
Staff in the priority vaccination groups will be able to book their vaccination slot via a dedicated booking line.
It's understood that Health and Social Care Trusts will inform their staff who are in the early deployment groups and encourage them to book their vaccinations through a digital booking platform.
All the clinics will be operating up to and including Christmas Eve with further dates being added from December 27.
The full roll-out of the vaccine is scheduled to continue until the summer of 2021, the Department of Health said.
Further population groups will be added to the programme on a phased basis, with priority given to age and other clinical vulnerability factors.
The focus for vaccination in the coming weeks will be on care home residents and staff (including supported living centres where the clinical risk is considered to be similar to a care home); health and social care staff working with patient groups at higher risk (including embedded support staff); staff working in higher risk settings; staff who are themselves at increased personal risk due to being in extremely vulnerable high risk categories or having other defined clinical risk factors.
In advance of the GP element of the programme starting, active consideration is being given to options for extending the programme to begin vaccinating over 80s in the community, the Department of Health said.