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The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland has issued a statement warning against complacency once people receive their COVID-19 vaccination.

In its statement, the DoH said:

Congratulations on your jab! Vaccination is absolutely vital as we move forward out of this pandemic. This is really something to celebrate.

We all want our freedoms back, but it’s also very important to keep taking care.

As things stand at present, that means not changing our behaviours. It means continuing to follow all the current restrictions and public health advice. For the time being, that still means staying at home where possible, and not socialising indoors with people from other households.

There are very positive indications on the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, particularly when it comes to reducing serious illness and death. But they do not make us invincible. For a start, they do not take full effect until three weeks or more after the jab. Also, no vaccine is 100% successful. A small minority will not get full levels of protection. And while we believe vaccination will cut transmission rates, definitive evidence is awaited on the extent to which it will stop people passing it on to others.

On top of this, we still have a large part of our population to vaccinate. That will be done as quickly as possible, as available supplies allow.

All this means we need to stick to the important habits we have learned in the past year. That includes keeping our distance from others, wearing a face covering when required and washing our hands regularly and well. The virus spreads best in enclosed indoor spaces, where ventilation is poor. That’s why meeting up with people in indoor settings has been a major focus of restrictions in the past year. So don’t take risks, just because you’ve been vaccinated.

This is a time for hope. Vaccination is helping us ease out of lockdown gradually. But this is not the time to let down our guard.

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