Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann has said some 12,000 people will get the Covid-19 vaccine in the next two weeks.

The announcement follows Britain becoming the first country in the world to fully approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is to be made available across the UK from next week.

It was planned that the rollout of the vaccine would begin Monday week however, Mr Swann said there is a possibility that the rollout could be brought forward by a couple of days with vaccinations actually starting next week.

Mr Swann speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, said “It is the beginning of the end”. However, he warned against complacency and strongly advised the people of Northern Ireland to remain vigilant and follow public health guidelines.

He also stressed a mass rollout of the vaccine to the population would not be possible until “well into next year”.

The UK have allocated 25,000 phials of the vaccine to Northern Ireland at this early stage. Given it is a two-jab inoculation, it means 12,000 people, who are deemed most vulnerable, will be given the vaccine.

It has been reported that Northern Ireland has categorised the most vulnerable as healthcare workers, care home residents and social care workers.

Northern Ireland reported 391 new covid-19 cases yesterday and a further 15 deaths. This took the death toll in NI past 1,000 to 1,011.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, when answering a question in the Dáil today, suggested approval for the Covid-19 vaccine in the Republic of Ireland could come on December 29 “at the latest”. It may be a Christmas present like no other.

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