THE FIRST person to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Northern Ireland will be given the jab this coming Tuesday morning.
According to the PA News Agency, a dose of the much-anticipated Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be administered at 8am at a mass vaccination centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
A team of over 800 vaccinators willtake charge of the roll-out programme in Northern Ireland.
Stocks of the drug arrived in country on Friday, having been transported overnight via the republic.
A total of 25,000 doses have arrived as part of the initial batch of the vaccine.
All of the stocks are behing held at a privately-operated central storage facility at an undisclosed location.
Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine in Northern Ireland.
"We have been anticipating this news for many months and it is hugely welcome to receive the first batch of the vaccine today,” he said.
"I have been clear that we still have a long journey ahead of us but we can be optimistic.
"Following authorisation of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine by MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) on Wednesday, we have been able to move swiftly to co-ordinate the arrival of the first consignment and will now be able to commence the planned roll-out from early next week."
As part of the initial wave of vaccinations in Northern Ireland, healthcare workers will be able to receive the jab at one of seven vaccination centres across the region.
Two will operate out of Ulster Hospital in Dundonald and Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital with the remainder based in leisure centres.
The centres will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with initial aim of vaccinating 100,000 healthcare and care home staff.
Care home residents and those over the age of 80 will also be given first priority for the vaccine.
Plans for the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in care homes across Northern Ireland are still being discussed.
The size of batches coupled with the extremely low temperatures required to store the vaccine in makes the plans complex.
It may end up that many care home residents end up receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with approval potentially a matter of days away and the jab significantly easier to transport and store.
"Vaccination will be a massive long-term logistical challenge," Swann admitted.
"Our rate of progress will depend on available supplies that will be distributed as part of a UK-wide programme.
"Everyone will require two doses, with a number of weeks in between. Roll-out will take up a large part of 2021 so we will all need to be patient as we await our turn."