Northern Ireland’s coronavirus vaccination programme has opened up to the 25 to 29-year-old age group.
The latest expansion comes just days after the region hit the landmark 1million figure for the number of those who have received at least one dose of the jab.
From Thursday, anyone born between 01/05/91 and 31/07/96 can book an appointment at one of the Trust vaccination centres across Northern Ireland.
In line with the latest JCVI advice, anyone under the age of 40 can book a Pfizer-BioTech vaccine, or they can make what the Department of Health has described as an “informed decision” to receive the AstraZeneca jab at the SSE Arena in Belfast or participating community pharmacies.
Vaccine supplies have been described as limited, with approximately 20,000 slots available each week.
Health Minister Robin Swann has urged all those eligible to book a vaccination.
“Vaccination is vital in helping us move through this pandemic and there is no doubt that there are people in Northern Ireland alive today because they have been vaccinated,” he said.
“Next week we will see further easing of restrictions with the re-opening of licensed and unlicensed premises indoors, the remainder of tourist accommodation and the further relaxation to the rules over visiting indoors.
“This has been made possible because of the success of the vaccination programme and the majority of people acting on the public health advice.
“I appeal to everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to book an appointment.
“I know there are some younger people that think they don’t need the vaccine but we have seen what this virus can do and with variants now in the mix we all need to protect ourselves and those around us.”
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride added: “While the risk of severe disease is lower in younger people, some may get very sick.
“There is much we still have to learn about this virus and post Covid syndrome or ‘long Covid’, which can be very debilitating for some. In making the decision to get the vaccine you are protecting not only yourself, but also those that matter to you. Every vaccine really does bring us closer, together.”
The department said the ongoing roll-out of the vaccination programme will continue to be dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies.
Appointments can be booked online at covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated or by the telephone booking number – 0300 200 7813.
Details of participating pharmacies and how to book are online at: covid-19.hscni.net/community-pharmacy-covid-19-vaccination-service.