Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed the imminent publication of a COVID-19 vaccination action plan for Northern Ireland, but cautioned significant detail remains to be worked out.
Speaking after a debate on the vaccine roll-out in the Assembly, the South Belfast MLA stated: "I welcome that an action plan has been seen by the Health Committee and significant work has been done on the roll-out of a vaccine. This will enable it to become available swiftly as soon as there is regulatory authorisation, although it is essential we allow time for that regulatory process to be fully completed.
"However, public information is essential. We need to know how the vaccine will reach people who are immobile in their own homes, and indeed the domiciliary care workers vital to their care. We have to manage potentially separate regulatory processes on either side of the border, which may have an impact on the North/South Memorandum of Understanding and free movement across the border. We need to ensure people turn up for both doses of the vaccine, if that is the procedure, and are fully aware of the need to do so. We potentially need a plan for managing travel to and from places which may not have rolled out a programme as quickly.
"We also need to resource allied health professionals to play a valuable role in advising and helping with the process, and as has been widely stated, we will need a comprehensive public information and awareness campaign.
"Despite the light at the end of the tunnel offered by the advances in researching and developing these vaccines, there are significant challenges in the months ahead. It is essential there is Executive unity behind the need for vaccines and the development of a comprehensive vaccination programme."