'Hundreds' of Irish citizens desperately trying to book Covid-19 jabs in Northern Ireland
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'Hundreds' of Irish citizens desperately trying to book Covid-19 jabs in Northern Ireland

HUNDREDS of Irish citizens are scrambling to book Covid-19 vaccination appointments north of the border because availability is far better there.

According to The Sun, Irish people are growing increasingly frustrated with the EU's slow vaccine roll-out, and have decided to try their luck in Northern Ireland, whose roll-out is among the speediest in the world.

It isn't just those living close to the border who are seeking Northern Irish vaccine appointments as it's understood that Irish citizens from as far away as Galway have tried to get vaccinated in the north.

The online vaccination booking system does not require people to provide their home address – but details must be provided on arrival at a centre.

People living in the Republic of Ireland have now been warned to stop booking jabs unless they are registered with a doctor there or have an NHS number, according to RTE.

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Patricia Donnelly, head of the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland, urged those living in the Republic to stop booking vaccinations if they aren't eligible.

"Our scheme is not open to the residents of the Republic, sadly, but we are seeing increasing numbers of ineligible people, including people from the Republic of Ireland, trying to book an appointment at one of our vaccination centres," she said.

"Unfortunately, it's hundreds.

"We had trickles of individuals really since the start of the programme, but we've noticed in the last week that it's now turning into hundreds, and that would be the case across every single health trust, they're getting hundreds of people booking on to the system."

It comes amid a fierce row between the EU and the UK over vaccine supply, with Brussels threatening to block vaccine exports reaching Britain.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that the EU would look to block vaccine exports to nations with high jab rates, and to those who don't "reciprocate" by sharing their stock.

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President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised the comments and urged the EU to back down and allow the UK to receive the vaccines its has paid for and has rights to.

"We in this country do not believe in blockades of any kind of vaccine or vaccine material. It is not something this country would dream of engaging in."

He did however suggest that a compromise was possible, and hinted that Britain could share some its excess stock with the EU as a peace-offering.

"We are all fighting the same pandemic," Mr Johnson said. "Vaccines are an international operation."