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The Department of Health have announced a ‘Big Jab Weekend’ this Saturday and Sunday in an initiative that they hope will lead to many more people using the opportunity to get a vaccination against Covid-19.

The promotion on 21/22 August will see Northern Ireland’s mass vaccination centres once again offering walk-in first jabs for all adult age groups.

That’s on top of ongoing vaccinations at walk-in pop-up clinics and at participating community pharmacies.

The mass vaccination centres will soon be winding down their work after nine months of intensive activity. They ceased offering first doses to the general population at the end of July, but are returning to that role for this weekend. That is part of a big push to get as many people protected from COVID-19 as possible.

The ‘Big Jab Weekend’ will be the last chance for anyone aged 18 and over to get their first jab at a mass vaccination centre

Welcoming the initiative, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “We want to offer people as many opportunities as possible to get the jab. There is still demand for vaccination – the take-up at walk-in clinics demonstrates that. 

“No appointment will be needed at the vaccination centres this weekend or at the ongoing walk-in clinics – just turn up and get your jab at a time that suits you. It couldn’t be easier.

“Vaccination is saving lives. When we get jabbed, we are protecting ourselves, protecting others and protecting the health service. It is the single biggest contribution people can make to getting normality back. It helps opens doors to nights out, travel, music and sports events and to so many other things we have missed so much in the last 18 months.”

Ahead of the ‘Big Jab Weekend’, anyone aged 16 and over can get their first vaccine dose at the ongoing series of localised walk-in clinics being held across Northern Ireland.

And 16 and 17 year olds will continue to be able to get Pfizer vaccine first jabs every day at the mass vaccination centres.

In addition, anyone aged 18 and over can also book a Moderna vaccine first dose appointment at participating community pharmacies. The number of pharmacies offering first dose appointments has now been expanded to 48.  More details on pharmacy bookings are available on the healthandcareni website at: WWW.HEALTHANDCARENI.NET

The ‘Big Jab weekend’ will be promoted through social media and advertising.

Patricia Donnelly, Head of NI’s vaccination programme, said: “I want to thank vaccination teams for this latest initiative and for their incredible dedication and enthusiasm ever since the programme began.

“The current phase of our vaccination programme will be drawing to a close in the coming weeks.  The mass vaccination centres will be winding down by the end of this month, as the buildings return to their normal use.

“There will still be opportunities to get vaccinated – for instance at community pharmacies and through forthcoming targeted initiatives. However, these opportunities will be inevitably more limited, as the focus of the programme switches to booster jabs. If you haven’t got your jab already, the right time is now – it will never be easier or more convenient than it is now.”

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