Paul Givan receives his second Covid-19 vaccine and thanks ''all those involved in vaccine effort''
First Minister Paul Givan receives his second Covid-19 vaccine during a visit to the SSE Arena in Belfast on Thursday, July 15.
Mr Givan met staff, volunteers and representatives of the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust and thanked all those involved in the vaccination effort.
The First Minister said: ''The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound and long-lasting impact on the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland. We are all looking forward to a time when we are free from its shadow. But the vaccine is key to that.''
It comes as more walk-in vaccine clinics, where no booking is needed, have been added to locations across Northern Ireland for the coming weeks.
Appointment-free pop-up clinics were established as part of a "final push" to get younger people vaccinated.
The clinics are offering first doses of the vaccine to anyone over 18 and are located throughout the health trust areas.
No appointment is necessary but ID must be brought.
Walk-in slots for second doses are meanwhile being offered at the vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
Anyone who has had a Pfizer vaccine six weeks ago or an AstraZeneca vaccine eight weeks ago is eligible. Second doses cannot be administered at a shorter time interval.
A total of 2,137,591 Covid-19 vaccines had been administered in Northern Ireland as of Wednesday afternoon.
Of those, 1,187,446 were first doses and 950,145 people had received two doses.
The Health Minister Robin Swann said a sharp rise in Covid cases is “a cause for concern” after more than 1,000 people tested positive for the first time since January.
Mr Swann said: “We have seen the numbers climb in recent weeks but today’s spike in cases is cause for concern. This is the first time since January that we’re reporting a daily change of over 1,000 positive cases, and while we are in a more fortunate position with a large proportion of the population now vaccinated we must remain cautious.
“We need everyone to play their part in helping to stop the spread of the virus. Our advice remains the same – stick to guidelines and regulations, all adults aged 18 and over should get vaccinated, and ensure you and your close contacts self-isolate if you test positive.”
With an increase in cases among the younger age group he made a particular appeal to take up vaccinations, urging people not to risk being left with debilitating long-term health issues.
“We all want to enjoy the summer but we must continue to do it safely.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “Vaccination is key to preventing serious illness and with such high infection levels circulating in the community it is vital that all those eligible for vaccination come forward for their jab. Our vaccination programme has been very successful and there is no doubt that many people are alive in Northern Ireland today because they have been vaccinated.
“Our health system is at the point where it is struggling to cope with current levels of demand for care. We simply cannot continue to add more pressure. We must work together to drive down infection levels. This means we must all continue to follow the behaviours that we are all accustomed to, and that we know limit the spread of the virus.”