Northern Ireland begins rolling out Oxford Covid-19 vaccine

  • The new Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has begun rolling out in Northern Ireland, speeding up the NI vaccination programme.

    It's hard to believe it's been less than two months since news broke of the first successful large-scale medical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine. The first vaccine to announce successful results and to be approved for distribution was developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, and it was soon followed by two other promising candidates.

    One vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was approved for use in the UK just last week, and yesterday it was administered to a person in Northern Ireland for the first time. The injection was given to 94-year-old Eileen Lynch at a GP surgery on the Falls Road in Belfast.

    RELATED: Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial reports 70% effectiveness, and a bonus

    Unlike the Pfizer vaccine that uses mRNA to teach your immune system to recognise the Covid-19 virus, the Oxford vaccine uses a modified version of a harmless virus to carry the instructions. This makes it easier to manufacture and more stable at higher temperatures, so it doesn't have to be stored in special -70 degree Celcius deep freezers like the mRNA vaccines.

    Northern Ireland has already received 50,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and with more expected to follow in the next few days. Priority is still being given to elderly and vulnerable groups, with those aged 80 or older getting it first and then groups based on age and other vulnerability factors.

    RELATED: First Covid-19 vaccine trial is '90% effective of protection'

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride commented on the rollout: "Today marks the first phase of our population vaccination programme and is a positive step forward. The vaccine programme will transform the situation but as always we must all remain patient. First and foremost we must act to protect those most at risk of severe disease and death."

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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