Injections of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine begin in Northern Ireland GP practices today.
50,000 doses are being allocated from Monday, with those aged over 80 being prioritised.
The GP programme will run alongside the ongoing Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination programme whch which was first administered to frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staff and those with certain clinical conditions.
In the Republic, the first Pfizer were administered last week and will be rolled out to all nursing homes in January. The State will receive 40,000 vaccines a week from Pfizer in January and February.
Northern Ireland’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that as many people as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “First and foremost we must act to protect those most as risk of severe disease and death. The evidence shows that the initial dose of vaccine offers as much as 70% protection against the effects of the virus. Providing that level of protection on a large scale will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality and hospitalisations, protecting the Health and Social Care system. It is the right thing to do for the public health.”
“Everyone will of course receive their second dose to complete the course within the recommended timescale. We can all be assured by the level of protection that is available following the first dose and that the second dose will prolong the period of immunity. “