COVID-19 vaccination programme in Northern Ireland

COVID-19 vaccination programme in Northern Ireland

COVID-19 vaccination programme in Northern Ireland

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines have been approved for use in the UK and are available in Northern Ireland.

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Groups to be offered the vaccine first

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert group, has recommended that this vaccine is offered first to those at highest risk of catching the virus and of suffering serious complications if they are infected.

This includes:

  • frontline health and social care workers
  • care home residents and staff
  • and those with certain clinical conditions

When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.

Vaccine safety and effectiveness

The vaccine has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

While the vaccine may help protect you from coronavirus, it’s still important to follow social distancing and other public health guidance, as well as complying with any restrictions to keep each other safe.

COVID-19 vaccination programme plan

The Department of Health has published a vaccination phased plan document on their website, outlining when different groups can expect to get the vaccine and how it will be deployed:

Further information about the vaccine

The Public Health Agency has developed a frequently asked questions section, including leaflets, about the vaccine on its website:

COVID-19 vaccination programme in Northern Ireland

VCSE COVID Recovery Fund reopening for applications January 2021

The Department for Communities are reopening the Voluntary, Community and Social Economy (VCSE) COVID Recovery Fund for applications on 18 January 2021.

The scheme which closed on 11 December 2020, will reopen for applications under Theme 3 of the Fund (Future PPE and Sundry Equipment needs) for a period of two weeks from 18 January 2021 to 29 January 2021.

Importantly to help ensure that VCSE organisations have the PPE required to continue service delivery, the maximum award from this part of the Fund which was previously capped at £2,000, will rise to £5,000. Organisations who were previously successful in applying to this element of the fund can reapply to receive up to £5k (e.g. if an organisation was awarded £2k from the 1st round of applications, they can apply for a further £3k).

This opportunity for groups to make new or additional applications will help provide the Sector with the opportunity to plan ahead and ensure their premises are ready to deliver services as soon as Covid restrictions are relaxed.

As before, the Fund will be distributed by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with Rural Community Network.

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Education Restart – Guidance for Schools & Educational Settings in Northern Ireland 6th January 2021

Education Restart – Guidance for Schools & Educational Settings in Northern Ireland January 2021

From: Education Restart Programme
To: All Schools,
Date: 6 January 2021

Dear Colleague

Guidance for Schools & Educational Settings in Northern Ireland

Education Minister Peter Weir MLA has announced that in light of the current crisis in public health, the Northern Ireland Executive has agreed that the following necessary actions are proposed. These replace the actions set out in the letter to schools of 31 December 2020.

The Minister has stated that any disruption to schooling for a significant period of time will have a devastating impact on children’s educational opportunities and future prospects, as well as being damaging to their mental health and well-being.

No matter how well managed or provided, removal of face to face learning and its replacement with remote learning impacts on children’s educational experience, with a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged groups and vulnerable children. It should therefore be only contemplated as a last resort in extreme public health circumstances such as we are currently facing, and should be maintained for a period no longer than is necessary.

This decision does not suggest that schools are no longer safe places for young people. Instead, limiting attendance is about reducing the number of contacts that all of us have with people in other households.  The Executive has correctly sought to prioritise education and the needs of our young people.

Effective from : Thursday 7th January

  • All mainstream education providers, including pre-school education settings, primary and post primary schools are required to provide remote learning at home to their pupils rather than face to face teaching in school, until the half term break in the middle of February.
  • Remote learning and the removal of face to face teaching should be temporary and last no longer than necessary, and therefore will remain under review by the Executive.
  • Special schools to remain open as usual.
  • Flexibility for post primary schools to allow some face to face revision classes in the first week of term for students taking GCSEs in week two of term.
  • EOTAS provision to continue operating as normal with remote learning for those who do not attend.


In line with this announcement, this short update has been published to reflect recent changes in policy in relation to face coverings and attendance of clinically extremely vulnerable people in the workplace.

In addition, it clarifies concerns raised around special school settings and the number of parents required as key workers for pupils to be provided a place in school.   The information in this update will be incorporated into the full DE Coronavirus Guidance for Education Settings in due course and issued to schools.

Staff should be working remotely where they can do so effectively and fully, but if required by their Principal / line manager to attend school for an essential reason they are expected to do so. Examples include support of vulnerable children or key workers and to conduct essential work which cannot be completed remotely. Required attendance in school would of course be subject to any personal medical or exceptional circumstances.

The Department’s Continuity Direction to schools requires all schools to have due regard to the DE Coronavirus guidance in delivering education.

Provision for Vulnerable and Key Worker Children

Vulnerable children and children of key workers to have access to schools for supervised learning. Vulnerable children include amongst others all statemented children.