COVID-19: Coronavirus vaccine programme opens to all adults in Northern Ireland

The vaccination programme in Northern Ireland is now open for everyone aged 18 and over, the Department of Health says.

More than 70% of the adult population of Northern Ireland have now had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 40% have had two doses.

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On Wednesday, health minister Robin Swann said that the rollout would be extended to 18 to 24-year-olds "in the very near future".

And on Thursday he said: "I am delighted that our vaccination programme is now open to all adults in Northern Ireland. I know this will be very welcome news for young people who have been waiting patiently for their turn to get the jab.

"Today’s announcement is another important milestone in the drive to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can, so that we can see a return to normality.

"The tremendous success of the vaccination programme has brought great hope and has helped to enable the recent further easing of restrictions.

"The expansion of the vaccination programme, well ahead of schedule, to everyone aged 18 and over is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved in delivering the vaccine throughout Northern Ireland."

People aged 18 and over will be able to book their jabs from 8am, the Department of Health added.

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On Wednesday, the vaccine rollout in England was extended to anyone over the age of 30.

In Scotland and Wales, people over-18 can already book their jab.

In some areas of England where the Indian COVID-19 variant has spread rapidly, local health authorities are going against government guidance by offering doses to all over-18s.

In Northern Ireland, waste water is now being tested to track COVID cases as officials look to more effectively keep tabs on outbreaks in light of the variant.

An estimated 38% of the region’s waste water is being tested at 13 different sites to indicate where the virus is present, including variants, which authorities plan to extend to 70% coverage at 40 sites in the coming weeks.

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