The Department of Health has today published the phased plan for NI’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The Northern Ireland model for vaccine deployment has been designed to be pragmatic, agile and flexible.
As has been repeatedly emphasised, the rate of progress will be dependent on the availability of vaccines, supplied as part of UK-wide arrangements.
The deployment plans involve a mixture of delivery models which include:
– large fixed regional vaccination sites run by HSC Trusts,
– mobile Trust teams to visit care homes,
– Primary Care based model.
The vaccines are received via Public Health England before being stored in a distribution hub. From there, the vaccine is delivered, as required, to Trust pharmacy sites or a GP practice.
It is also intended that community pharmacy will be involved as the programme continues to be rolled out, subject to the availability of sufficient supplies of a suitable vaccine.
The implementation of the vaccination programme will continue to closely follow the prioritisation list recommended by JCVI.
There are 7 fixed Trust vaccination sites across NI and these are located at: Belfast Trust – Royal Victoria Hospital; South Eastern Trust – Ulster Hospital, Dundonald; Southern Trust – South Lakes leisure centre, Craigavon; Northern Trust – Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena; Western Trust – Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Centre; and Lakeside leisure centre, Enniskillen.
If required, the Trust vaccination centres will also be used to vaccinate members of the public in order to ensure the swift implementation of the programme.
The Primary Care based model started on the 4 January and involves 321 Practices spread right across Northern Ireland who will be inviting their patients in to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Due to the logistics and strict handling conditions associated with the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine it was agreed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would deployed in a GP setting.
Due to the social distancing measures required the GP delivery phase will involve a mixture of models ranging from clinics operating from a practice, hiring of nearby community halls or drive through arrangements in carparks.
GPs will invite their patients in for vaccination in line with the JCVI prioritisation list, starting with all those aged 80 years or over, before working their way down through the age cohorts.