Nurse becomes first person on island of Ireland to receive Covid vaccine

Coronavirus vaccinations are taking place in Northern Ireland for the first time.

The first person to receive the jab in the North was a 28-year-old nurse from Dundrum in Co Down.

Joanna Sloan is sister in charge of Covid vaccination for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland’s largest.

She is a former emergency department nurse and has been in her occupation for six years.

She is engaged but her wedding was postponed due to the pandemic. She has a daughter aged five.

The Pfizer/BioNTech dose was administered to her on Tuesday morning at a mass vaccination centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Ms Sloan is one of an 800-plus team of vaccinators that will be involved in the subsequent rollout programme.

Emergency nurse practitioner Carly Niblock (left) reads over advice information documents with Sister Joanna Sloan before she becomes the first person in Northern Ireland to receive the first of two Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jabs, at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast
Joanna Sloan is sister in charge of Covid vaccination for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland’s largest.

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Let us not underestimate the importance of today and what we are seeing with the start of our vaccination programme.”

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He told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “It is a game-changer, it is a big day. It is the day we have long been waiting for.”

He said it should be greeted with optimism but tempered with caution.

“This is the start of a long road to recovery but we are on the first step.”

Healthcare workers across the region will be able to get the vaccine through the remainder of December at seven centres spread across the region.

On Monday, Mr Swann announced care home residents will also be prioritised in the first phase.

He said deployment of the vaccine to care homes will proceed in the coming days.

The minister said officials have been working on the logistical requirements for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and reached a solution involving mobile teams operating from the different trust vaccination centres.

“We are currently considering how these arrangements might be extended to include over-80s in the community,” Mr Swann added.

Stocks of coronavirus vaccine arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday.

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There are 25,000 doses in the initial batch of the vaccine.

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The stocks have been taken to a central storage facility operated by a private company. The location is not being disclosed.

Two of the facilities are located on hospital grounds – at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald and Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital – and the rest in leisure centres.

The centres will operate 12 hours a day and seven days a week.

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