Sinn Féin Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady has welcomed the announcement that the medicines regulator, the MHRA, has authorised a Covid-19 vaccine for widespread use.
Speaking after the announcement this morning the MP said;
"I welcome this announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will now begin to be rolled out.
This will give great hope to the public after nine months of the pandemic which has had a devastating impact on our communities, our economy and health services.
This is just one vaccine but hopefully other vaccines being developed will be ready for clinical authorisation in the near future to ensure we have a vaccination programme that can fully meet the needs of people here”.
The Sinn Féin elected representative continued,
“It is important those most at risk are prioritised from the outset of the vaccination programme.
However, we must be clear that a full roll-out of vaccines could take months.
It also remains imperative that the Find Track Trace Isolate and Support system continues to be scaled up to cope with the virus given the complete roll-out of the vaccine could take some time”.
Concluding the Newry & Armagh MP said,
"We must not let down our guards – particularly as we go into the Christmas season.
We need to continue to practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and the appropriate use of PPE.”
Health Minister Robin Swann has hailed a “hugely significant day for Northern Ireland” with the announcement that the first Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for widespread use.
The approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been issued by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). A number of other vaccines are at various stages of development while another is currently being considered by MHA.
It is planned to roll-out vaccination from this month, with the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) determining which population groups will receive the vaccine first. Completion of roll-out will take up much of 2021.
Health and social care workers – including care home staff - will be amongst the first priority groups, as will care home residents. Further groups will then be added to the programme throughout 2021 based on age and clinical vulnerability factors.
The Health Minister said: “My department has plans and preparations in place to begin the roll-out. This is a hugely significant day for Northern Ireland and the news we were hoping for before Christmas. My thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to make it possible.
“It needs to be remembered that the vaccination process will be a major and long-running logistical exercise. Our rate of progress will depend on available supplies that will be distributed as part of a UK-wide programme.
“We will all need to be patient and allow the priority groups to receive their vaccination first.
“This not the end of the Coronavirus nightmare but it should represent the beginning of the end.”
Mr Swann added: “I need to urge everyone to remain ultra-vigilant in the months ahead as each of us patiently await our turn. It is essential that we keep taking all the steps required to protect each other and stop the virus spreading.
“This does not mean that restrictions on our daily lives will be able to disappear anytime soon. There is still a very tough winter ahead for our health service and society.
“We need to think of vaccination as a long trek to freedom.
“Let’s all of us across Northern Ireland carry each other through this winter, doing all we can to ensure as many people as possible get to enjoy Christmas and live to see a better New Year.”