Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has welcomed the Health Minister’s announcement of a change in vaccination strategy so that more people initially receive the first dose quickly.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “The approval of the Oxford vaccine and further on-going indications of the significant benefit provided by a single dose mean that it is right for Northern Ireland to shift strategy to ensuring as many people get an initial dose as quickly as possible.
“By maximising the number of people, particularly with clinical vulnerability due to age group or underlying condition, who receive this initial protection, we will be able to move forward faster towards the end goal.
“It should be emphasised that the second dose is still important for longer term protection, but that it has now been found to be less urgent. So the second dose will follow – but the extra immediate protection of the initial dose will be offered to more people beforehand.
“All that said, one challenge this presents is that it means people who were expecting to be able to visit loved ones in care homes on the basis that residents and staff would have the full protection of two doses will now in theory have to wait. I would urge the Minister to make arrangements to enable some form of improved visitation rights after one dose, taking account the reduced but not eliminated risk.
“It is essential to emphasise to the public that, as yet, there are still a huge number of people in society vulnerable to the virus, and we must continue to behave with utmost caution – staying at home where possible, limiting social contacts, and remembering hand hygiene and all times.”