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‘To protect my family’: 16 and 17-year-olds in Northern Ireland get vaccinated

Written by on 06/08/2021

Teenagers in Northern Ireland have become the first 16 to 17-year-olds to get a COVID vaccine in the UK.

Those in the age category, with no underlying health conditions, have been able to receive a vaccine since Friday.

Youngsters have been able to attend walk-in appointments at seven regional vaccination centres, and some in Belfast have spoken of being motivated to get the jab by wanting to protect their families against the virus.

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Teenagers respond to vaccine announcement

The SSE Arena in the capital saw many visitors looking to get vaccinated, and Meabh Magee, from Glengormley, was one of those who turned up to get her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

She said: “It was my idea [to get vaccinated] because I thought since I am being offered it, I may as well take it to protect my family.

“It makes me more confident about going back to school and being around so many people.”

More on Covid-19

However, Jorja Johnston, from Carrickfergus, said her mum “persuaded” her to get the jab, admitting she had worries about having it.

“I was completely against it but decided I have to get it so I came up and got it,” she said.

Her mum Robyn said she was “proud of her for doing it” and she had to “do her bit”.

Elliot Aston said he was “quite excited” to have received his first dose and said it’s “good” teenagers are being offered it as they are “probably the ones that are out and about the most”.

Elliot Aston, 16, from Newtownards, who got his first Pfizer jab at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture date: Friday August 6, 2021.
Image: Elliot Aston, 16, from Newtownards, who got his first Pfizer jab at the SSE Arena in Belfast

Northern Ireland currently has a seven-day rolling average of 62.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

Two weeks ago, hospitals in Belfast were forced to call in extra nurses to deal with the “extreme pressure” from increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The Belfast Trust, which runs the Northern Irish capital’s hospitals, said the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Mater Hospital were both struggling to cope and sent out an appeal on Twitter for extra nurses to come in.

In England, teenagers are being advised they should wait to be contacted by their GP to arrange an appointment, and some clinics were already giving out jabs on Friday, NHS England said.

Walk-in services are expected to be available across England from next week.

In Scotland, those in the 16 to 17 age category can register on an online portal and will then be sent an appointment by text or email.

Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford said health boards are beginning to send out vaccine invites to youngsters in that age category.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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