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Fourteen Covid-related deaths since Friday as 130 pharmacies on board to deliver vaccine doses

There have been 14 further Covid-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland since Friday – three in the past 24 hours.

In the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area the total  number of deaths stands at 350 – up two from Friday and second only to Belfast at 473.

The number of deaths in Mid Ulster is up one to 242 while in Newry Mourne and Down there was one further death recorded, making 195.

There have been a further 1,080 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health’s latest daily dashboard update.

There were 151 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, which is the second highest in NI. There were 92 positive cases in Mid-Ulster, while Newry, Mourne and Down recorded 105. Belfast had the highest with 188.

A total of 2,960 individuals were tested in that time.

There are 338 – down four – people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, 37 – up six – of whom are in intensive care unit.

There are currently 91 – up two – Covid patients in the Southern Trust area with 54 – down three – patients in Craigavon Area Hospital, and 17 ICU beds available across Northern Ireland.

Hospital capacity in Northern Ireland currently stands at 103%.

The total number of deaths now stands at 2,570.

Meanwhile, there is still time to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before Christmas, Health Minister Robin Swann has emphasised.

The Minister today launched an important new phase of the vaccination programme, with 130 local pharmacies now signed up to provide the Moderna vaccine to everyone aged 18 and over who is not yet 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.

“With the eight week gap between doses, anyone coming forward for their first dose now will still have time for their second jab before Christmas. They can enjoy the festive season with the added and vital protection that vaccination gives – both for them and people close to them.”

Appealing to people who have not yet had their first vaccine dose, Mr Swann added: “Please don’t delay. Don’t be left behind – don’t miss out on the benefits that vaccination brings. We have now administered over 2.5 million jabs in Northern Ireland, including first and second doses. Come and join the vast majority of the population who are standing on safer ground.

“The threat from the virus has certainly not gone away. Thanks to the vaccines, we have weakened the link between cases and hospitalisations. Thanks to the vaccines, we have been able to carefully ease Covid restrictions and look forward to a full return to normality.”

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI Gerard Greene said: “We are very pleased that 130 community pharmacies will be providing the Moderna vaccine to all those who have yet to receive their Covid-19 jab and that pharmacies will be the central point within primary care for administering first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Receiving the vaccine at an accessible local community pharmacy from a clinician they know and trust is tremendously important, with pharmacists across Northern Ireland well-experienced in delivering vaccines having already administered over 143,000 Covid-19 doses since March. 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.

“We would also remind the public that it is very important to be protected from flu as well as from Covid-19. Community pharmacies will be providing a flu vaccination service for health and social care workers as well as members of the public aged 50 and over. We encourage all those eligible to contact a local community pharmacy to get vaccinated. It could really save lives this winter.”

The first dose Covid vaccine take-up for the adult population in NI is now 89%, and it is expected that the additional capacity and accessibility offered by community pharmacies will help push this rate up to and beyond the 90% mark.

For more details on participating pharmacies offering Moderna Covid vaccine appointments in your area, visit NI Direct or check out this interactive map: http://www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Covid_Moderna_Vaccination_Pharmacies.html

The number of pharmacies involved is expected to increase in the coming weeks. Community pharmacies across NI will also have a key role in providing Covid vaccine booster doses.

Moderna, like Pfizer, is a MRNA vaccine. Its effectiveness against Covid has been clearly established.

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