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Health Minister Robin Swann received his first Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday at a community pharmacy in Ballymena.

Speaking after receiving his jab at Ballee Pharmacy, Minister Swann said: “This has been a significant week for vaccine roll-out in Northern Ireland with the opening of the regional vaccination centre at The SSE Arena, the launch of our community pharmacy vaccination service and from today the extension of eligibility to the 45-49 year old age group.

“It will now also be a memorable week for me personally after receiving my first vaccine from the brilliant team at Ballee Pharmacy. I am very grateful to the team for joining the vaccination roll-out programme and to all the health care workers and volunteers throughout Northern Ireland who are administering thousands of vaccines to people here every day.

“Our vaccination programme continues to deliver exceptional results and while ultimate success is dependent on supplies, I think we can all be hopeful for brighter days.

“I am delighted to now join the almost 750,000 people in Northern Ireland who have received a Covid-19 vaccine and would encourage all those who are eligible to do the same. I have said it time and again, vaccines provide real hope for the future so please don’t delay, take advantage of the vaccine as soon as you can.”

Commenting on Health Minister Robin Swann MLA receiving his vaccine at Ballee Pharmacy, Ballymena today, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene said:

“We are delighted to see the Health Minister get the Covid vaccine from his local community pharmacy today.

“Since the community pharmacy vaccine programme launched on Monday, the uptake in local communities has already been strong and we expect this to grow as the service beds down in the coming days and weeks.

“The convenience of offering the vaccine in local pharmacies will undoubtedly help get more people vaccinated in a shorter period of time. It will also free up other healthcare settings and continue to ease the burden on our hospitals.

“We encourage anyone eligible who has yet to receive their vaccine to book with your local community pharmacy. It is encouraging that the age cohort has widened even further today to include those aged 45-49, allowing more people to be protected against the vaccine. We would however ask the public to be patient and only book an appointment when your cohort has been announced. Community pharmacies, like other vaccination providers have robust verification measures in place and proof of eligibility will be required when you attend a vaccination appointment. Patients who are not eligible for vaccination will have their appointments cancelled.

“The vaccine is the greatest defence against Covid-19 and we are heartened to see the success of the vaccine programme within community pharmacies at this early stage.”

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