Belfast Nurse Takes First COVID19 Vaccine
A Co. Down nurse has been the first person in Ireland to receive the new untested COVID19 vaccine. Will you be taking it? Many are concerned that the risks involved are too high, while the state continues with it's line of "take the shot or stay in lockdown."
A nurse at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has become the first person on the island of Ireland to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
Joanna Sloan, 28, was given the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, just after 8am.
The nurse from Dundrum in Co Down, who has a five-year-old daughter, is sister in charge of Covid-19 vaccination for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland's largest.
She is a former emergency department nurse and has been in her occupation for six years.
The vaccine was approved for use in the UK on 2 December, with the first consignment arriving in Northern Ireland two days later.
Northern Ireland's Department of Health expects to receive 25,000 vaccines in its initial allocation.
With each recipient requiring two jabs, the plan is to vaccinate 12,500 people before the end of the year, with the service being provided at two hospitals - the Royal Victoria and the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald - and at five leisure centres.
Vaccinators will be at the head of the queue to receive the vaccine and mobile units will be used to bring the service to care home residents, who are being prioritised in this first phase of the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland.
Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said: "Let us not underestimate the importance of today and what we are seeing with the start of our vaccination programme."
Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Ulster, he said: "It is a game changer, it is a big day.
"It is the day we have long been waiting for."
He said it should be greeted with optimism, but tempered with caution.
"This is the start of a long road to recovery but we are on the first step."
Mr Swann added: "This vaccine gives hope, this vaccine gives the opportunity of a return to normal sooner than we would ever have thought."
Earlier, he said the deployment of the vaccine to care homes will proceed in the coming days.
"This will be a hugely important day and we can to look forward into next year with a degree of optimism," he said.
"However, it needs to be stressed again and again that vaccination of the population is a massive undertaking that will take many months to complete".
Mr Swann repeated his plea for continued patience and "maximum vigilance".
"Now is not the time to drop our guard, we still have many challenging months ahead," he said.
Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, said today is a remarkable one.
"We can begin to look to the future with a degree of optimism, with this vaccine and other vaccines and more effective treatments," he said.
"Hopefully in the future Covid-19 will become a more manageable disease and we will begin the pathway to a more normal life."
He added that he did not think this day would come so soon, ten months after Covid-19 was discovered, as opposed to the more normal ten years taken to develop vaccines.
He recalled the sacrifices and harm caused by the virus as well as the number of lives lost, and warned there will be more challenging months ahead.
The Department of Health reported yesterday that nine people died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, taking the total to 1,059.
According to the department's statistics, a further 397 people tested positive for the virus.
Additional reporting PA