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The DUP’s representatives on the Health Committee Pam Cameron and Jonathan Buckley have issued a call to the Health Minister to upgrade the local vaccination programme to a 24/7 service in order to provide light at the end of the tunnel as Northern Ireland faces fresh Covid restrictions.

Commenting, Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley said:

‘‘Throughout this crisis, businesses and households across our Province have made huge sacrifices to slow the spread of the virus and keep others safe. As they are now asked to do even more, it is vital that we see the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine across Northern Ireland expanded and accelerated.

Other countries, including Israel, have overcome significant obstacles to start inoculating their citizens around the clock. Northern Ireland must follow suit and the health authorities must be ambitious about what can be achieved. We would encourage the Health Minister to bring forward any asks to the Executive to help make this a reality.

There should be no limit on our logistical creativity. Northern Ireland given its size and connected communities has a unique opportunity to lead the way and set an example for the world on vaccine rollout.’’

South Antrim MLA and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Pam Cameron added:

‘‘Having missed earlier opportunities to ensure extra capacity in our health service between previous waves, it is vital that Northern Ireland maximises the vaccine programme to wage war on this awful virus.

The vaccine provides real hope that we are entering the beginning of the end of this pandemic. However, we cannot rely on a fast start. It is essential that we ramp up the numbers of people being vaccinated to give early and effective protection from this terrible virus.

Only by strengthening our teams of dedicated and skilled teams of vaccinators will this be possible. It is absolutely critical that the Department learns lessons for the poor rate of appointments from the Workforce Appeal to provide the manpower and direction needed to make the roll out of the vaccine in Northern Ireland not just lifesaver but a trailblazer.’’