HEALTH Minister Robin Swann has welcomed news that the Moderna vaccine has become the third COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval from Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
In a statement Mr Swann said: “This week has seen the grave pressures of Covid come to bear on our health service, so news of the approval of a third vaccine is very welcome.
"We still have a long journey ahead but the approval of another vaccine should serve as encouragement for everyone and help us get through the next number of weeks of lockdown.”
Minister Swann said that allocations for Northern Ireland will be part of theoverall UK stock.
He added that he looked forward to it's arrival over the coming months.
"As with all other Covid-19 vaccines, prioritisation will be guided by the JCVI so those most at risk from this disease can receive protection first," he added.
Approval for the Moderna vaccine follows a thorough and rigorous assessment by the MHRA to ensure the vaccine meets the required standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Concluding the Health Minister said: “There is no doubt that our vaccination programme is key to transforming life as we currently know it. The scale of vaccinating a substantial proportion of the population means it will be many, many months before we can see any sense of normality return.
"We are now all well versed in what we need to do to save lives and protect our health service. I would once again ask everyone to follow the public health advice and please strictly abide by the current lockdown rules.
"Please continue to access the health service if you have an acute health problem or a worsen of an underlying health condition. Otherwise stay at home, protect others and protect our health service.”
To date a total of over 58,000 first doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered to care home staff and residents as well as HSC staff. Over 6,000 doses of vaccine have been given by GPs since Monday with many more practices vaccinating next week.
Speaking directly to those waiting vaccination the Minister said: “It’s important we all remain patient and wait our turn to be called while we protect those most at risk first. Your turn will come, be ready to take up the offer.”