Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Begins Vaccinating Healthy 16 and 17 Year-Olds Against Covid

Just two days after England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer said all 16 and 17 year-olds will start being invited to get vaccinated against Covid “in a very short number of weeks”, Northern Ireland has become the first U.K. nation to extend its vaccine roll-out to healthy children. BBC News has the story.

The move follows a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

More than 180 vaccinations were administered to 16 and 17 year-olds at the SSE arena in Belfast on Friday morning.

Confirming the number, Lead Nurse at the regional vaccination centre Pauline Wilson said there was a sense of excitement among young people in line for their jab.

“The general feedback is that they’re pleased to be here and they’re looking forward to things opening up again,” she said.

“It’s their turn and they are keen to get their vaccinations.” …

Regional vaccination centres in Northern Ireland are providing a walk-in service for first doses of Pfizer vaccines for those aged 16 and 17.

For those who prefer to book, an online booking platform will be available in the coming days.

The first vaccination will also be available at pop-up walk-in clinics across Northern Ireland.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Young people are “excited” to get ‘jabbed’, according to the Evening Standard.

Elliot Aston, from Newtownards, Co Down, said he was “quite excited” to have received his first jab.

“It’s good that they’re finally offering it to us because we are probably the ones that are out and about the most so I think it’s about time,” he said.

“I have an introduction day back to school coming up so I’ll definitely feel safer now around my friends.

“Some of my friends were here today getting it too.” …

Georgia Johnston, from Carrickfergus, admitted she had worries about getting the vaccine, but after some thought decided she would.

“I was completely against it but decided I have to get it so I came up and got it,” she said.

“My mum persuaded me, she got her vaccine.”

Also worth reading in full.

Northern Ireland’s Vaccine Rollout Now Open for Everyone Over 18

Northern Ireland has become the first part of the U.K. to offer appointments for Covid vaccines to its entire adult population. People aged 18-39 will have the option to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite its potential links to blood clotting (particularly in younger people) and, now, strokes. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said earlier this month that Brits below the age of 40 should only be offered alternatives to this vaccine “where possible“. BBC News has more.

More than one million people in Northern Ireland have received a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

The Department of Health said vaccine supplies had become limited and 20,000 slots would be available each week.

The limit is to help manage the availability of the Pfizer vaccine after regulators said under 40s should be given an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the department said.

However, it said anyone aged between 18 and 39 years old could still choose to have AstraZeneca jab…

Walk-in vaccination centres are open to over-18s in some parts of Wales, while in Scotland 18-to-29 year-olds can register for a text or email when they become eligible for an appointment.

A total of 1,6460,981 vaccines have been given so far in Northern Ireland…

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said Northern Ireland was “dealing with the emergence of new variants” and that everyone had “a part to play in keeping each other safe”.

He said: “I know that many young people will be very keen to book their jab now that they’re eligible for vaccination.

“It’s important to understand that while the risk of severe disease is lower in young people, some may become very ill and, of course, they can pass on the virus to others who may be more vulnerable.”

He urged everyone aged 18 and over to book a slot for vaccination, including those in older age-groups who have yet had a jab.

Worth reading in full.

The EU’s Vaccine Passport Scheme Could Destroy Peace in Northern Ireland

Today, the European Parliament will vote on the introduction of vaccine passports within the EU, known as Digital Green Certificates. Ciarán McCollum, a barrister and linguist from Northern Ireland who advises on matters of European law, has written a piece for Lockdown Sceptics expressing his concern that this scheme will destroy the fragile peace in Northern Ireland. Here’s an extract:

The proposed regulation will cost Europe dearly. There are the financial implications of a universal border control regime which involves the constant handling of that most sensitive of data types: medical records. There is the loss of ideals intrinsic to European democracy. But more pertinently for me, there is the situation in Northern Ireland.

The Explanatory Memorandum calls freedom of movement one of the EU’s “most cherished achievements” and a “driver of its economy”. It is also a driver of peace in my home. The Northern Irish remain citizens of Europe without the Union, and will not accept being checked upon entry into what about a million of them consider their home: the neighbouring Member State of Ireland. The prospect of violence is terrible.

Despite these risks and contrary to the recently introduced Better Regulation Rules, the DGC controls are being rushed through with nary a cost-benefit analysis, impact assessment or public consultation and with limited parliamentary debate. Why? Well, in the words of the Head of the Commision’s Covid Taskforce, Thierry Breton, when speaking to RTL in March, so that Europeans can once again “enter a public place” and “live without being a risk to each other”. Could Mr Breton really mean to suggest that there ever was, or ever can be, life without risk? Has the Parisian gentleman, when crossing his home city by car for example, ever encountered the 4-lane 12-exit roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe?

Worth reading in full.