A “get the jab, grab a poke” initiative for those receiving the coronavirus vaccination at a centre in Belfast was commended on Monday.
The South Eastern Health Trust, which operates the mass vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast, offered a free ice cream, or a free cup of coffee or tea to those who received a vaccine on Monday.
It came on the first day the centre offered walk-in appointments.
Speaking in the Stormont Assembly, Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler asked Health Minister Robin Swann if he would “like to join me in commending the South Eastern Trust for their get the jab, grab a poke initiative in giving a free ice cream with the jab”.
With a poke being a colloquial term for an ice cream cone in Belfast, Mr Swann joked that “grabbing a poke from where I come from actually has quite a different meaning”.
“I’m glad the member clarified it was ice cream,” he said.
“But I would like to thank the member for highlighting the different approaches that we are now seeing across a number of different trusts in regards to that encouragement of bringing people forward and the number of on-street and walk-in vaccine pop-up clinics that we saw over the weekend targeting those people who have missed and haven’t availed of the more formal settings that we have.
“I want to acknowledge all the people that have come forward but still encourage those who haven’t had their vaccine – or their ice cream in the South Eastern Trust – to come forward.”
As of Monday, some 2,070,574 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Northern Ireland.
A push is on to encourage those who have not yet received it to come forward.