Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Robin Swann, has welcomed the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

In a tweet on Wednesday 30 December Mr Swann welcomed the approval of the vaccine following a call with the UK’s other health ministers and said that deployment of the vaccine is expected next week.

He also confirmed that 33,683 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have now been administered to care home residents and frontline health staff in NI.

Mr Swann’s tweet was in response to the Government’s announcement that it had accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use. 

‘This,’ the Government said in its statement, ‘follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

‘The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive this vaccine.

‘The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan and decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes. It has already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of patients with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its roll out will continue. Now the NHS will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine. 

‘From today, the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups. With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.’ 

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