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One further Covid-related death recorded Newry, Mourne and Down with Pfizer now recommended vaccine for under 40s

There has been one further Covid-related death reported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today (Friday).

It occurred in the Newry , Mourne and Down district, according to the official dashboard.

As it stands, the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area accounts for 285 deaths overall. Newry, Mourne and Down District now accounts for 166 deaths while Mid-Ulster has registered 205 deaths.

The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department remains at 2,147.

There were a further 65 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours with 1o in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. There were six in Newry, Mourne and Down and Mid-Ulster District also recorded six in that time.

A total of 2,076 individuals were tested.

There are 62 – five less than yesterday – people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, six – down one – of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently nine – down two – patients in Craigavon Hospital – 11 overall in the Southern Trust area.

There are currently 16 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health is urging people to keep coming forward for your first and second Covid-19 vaccine doses.

Following the latest advice from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), people aged under 40 will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech in NI through the regional Trust vaccination centres.

Anyone of any age who has had a first dose of Astra Zeneca should proceed with their second dose of this same vaccine.

The JCVI has advised that those aged under 40 may still make an informed choice to receive the Astra Zeneca vaccine, for instance where no alternative vaccine is available, or where someone has an appointment booked for vaccination in the coming days and may prefer not to reschedule to receive an alternative vaccine.

The JCVI’s updated advice relates to reports of extremely rare adverse events of concurrent thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The JCVI has updated its risk/benefit advice in relation to age groups, in light of the current low incidence of disease and current and projected availability of alternative vaccines. In light of these factors, Pfizer is now its recommended vaccine for under 40’s.

The change means some logistical alterations to Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme. From Monday, May 10.

* People aged 40 plus can book Astra Zeneca first dose appointments at the SSE Arena vaccination centre and community pharmacies.

* People aged 30-39 can book their Pfizer first dose appointments at the other regional Trust vaccination centres across NI.

* People aged 30-39 can choose to make an informed decision to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine from participating community pharmacies if that is what they prefer or if they decide they would rather not wait to receive an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

* Anyone aged under 40 already booked for their first vaccine at one of the Trust centres, including the SSE Arena, will have this appointment honoured – with the Pfizer vaccine.

* Anyone of any age who has received an Astra Zeneca first dose should proceed with their second dose of Astra Zeneca. That’s unless they had an extreme adverse reaction to the first dose.

Head of the NI vaccination programme Patricia Donnelly said: “Protecting our adult population through vaccination is a huge and unprecedented undertaking. Logistical challenges are inevitable, but the programme has already proved itself to be highly resilient.

“I would again appeal for patience from the public, as we reset the programme in light of the updated JCVI advice.

“Pfizer supplies remain steady but limited, so our progress with the 30-39 age group will be limited for the next few weeks. Likewise, those under 30 will have to wait a few weeks before being offered appointments for their first dose.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “It is important to reiterate that the potential risk associated with the AZ first dose is extremely rare and that the threat from COVID-19 is much higher for the majority of adults.

“Getting vaccinated against this virus gives us hope – it protects us and helps us to start reclaim normality. I am looking forward to getting my second dose of Astra Zeneca in the near future and I would again encourage everyone to come forward without delay for their first and second jabs when it’s their turn.”

You can book your vaccination here.

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