SSE Arena vaccination centre and community pharmacy vaccine service officially launch

  • Photo: (c) Pacemaker/BBC News NI

    The first vaccination has been delivered at the SSE Arena in Belfast, which opened as a mass vaccination centre today (29 March 2021).

    The new community pharmacy Covid-19 vaccination service has also launched in Northern Ireland.

    Up to 1,850 vaccines are due to be administered at the SSE Arena today, it is expected that 40,000 people could be vaccinated there each week, where the AstraZeneca jab will be used.

    Health officials plan to operate the vaccination service at the venue up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week and free car parking and shuttle bus services are being offered to people travelling to the arena for their jab.

    Fifty five year old Gary Davidson from east Belfast, received the first jab after 08:00 BST.

    RELATED: Vaccines now available to everyone aged 50 and over

    The new community pharmacy vaccination service will see almost 350 community pharmacies throughout Northern Ireland begin to administer the jab and will mean eligible members of the public will be able to avail of the vaccine at a location more local to them.

    At present this applies to those aged 50 years and over, those with a letter from their hospital specialist or GP, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable aged 16 or over and have a shielding letter, or those working in health and social care in Northern Ireland who have an email or letter from their employer.

    Speaking during a visit to Timoney Pharmacy in Lambeg, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Community pharmacy teams have remained dedicated to providing the public with vital health care and support through what have been very challenging times.

    "Pharmacists have a wealth of expertise, skills and experience which makes them very well-placed for delivering the Covid-19 vaccine.

    "The addition of this new service will help speed up the roll-out of the existing programme by increasing capacity and local accessibility to vaccines for the general population, particularly for those who may find it more difficult to travel to one of the mass vaccination centres.”

    RELATED: Vaccination phone booking line for NI 65-69 year-olds now open

    After receiving her vaccine at the pharmacy, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Cathy Harrison said: “Community pharmacies have played a vital role throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as they join the vaccination roll-out programme.

    "Over the course of the past year, the general public has come to rely on community pharmacists more than ever before due to their accessibility and the addition of this new service will greatly benefit the people of Northern Ireland.

    “Given the high demand for vaccines we anticipate that community pharmacies will be a popular option for those who are eligible so please be patient with pharmacy teams.”

    The pace of the roll-out of the vaccination programme will be dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies.

    RELATED: Key sector employers can now access asymptomatic COVID testing

    Information on how to book a vaccination appointment at a pharmacy is published on the Covid-19 NI vaccination website.

    People wanting to book a vaccination centre appointment at the SSE Arena are asked to do so online here. If online booking is not possible, then the telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813.

    Those eligible also have the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their jab.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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