GPs stand ready to support vaccination efforts as Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is approved

The British Medical Association's NI General Practitioner's Committee (NIGPC) and the Royal College of GPs Northern Ireland (RCGPNI) have welcomed the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

RCGPNI Chair Dr Laurence Dorman said: “We are delighted to see the approval of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine today. This marks an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 and it will be an important tool in protecting people across Northern Ireland. GPs in NI have already started preparing so action can be taken quickly to support the rollout of the vaccine to our most vulnerable patients, following the priority list that is set by the Department of Health. Working at the frontline, GPs are eager to step up once again to play a vital part in tackling this deadly virus and we believe mass vaccination is the best way of bringing this pandemic to an end.

"As GPs, we know our patients well and have a strong track record of delivering the flu vaccine each year. We also know that the challenge of delivering this new vaccine on such a large scale is immense and it is essential that patients work with us in partnership, to help ensure the vaccination programme runs as smoothly as possible.

Dr Alan Stout, NIGPC Chair, said: "Vaccinating people against COVID-19 will be our top clinical priority going forward and understandably usual GP service delivery will be impacted. The BMA NI General Practitioners Committee and RCGPNI are working closely with colleagues in the Department of Health and the Health & Social Care Board to ensure every effort is taken to maintain urgent GP services but it is vital that patients stay informed of temporary changes to service delivery. The GP workforce is already incredibly stretched, and it simply cannot be 'business as usual' as we prioritise this vaccination programme. The rollout of the vaccine will take place over a number of months so we would ask for patience and we deliver this vital programme."

The NIGPC and RCGPNI are urging the public to follow these key messages:

  • Please do not contact your GP surgery with queries about vaccine availability. Practice phone lines are exceptionally busy, particularly during the winter period, and we assure patients that we will contact you when it is your time for vaccine.
  • Vaccination is the most effective health intervention and has saved millions of lives across the world from diseases such as polio, measles and meningitis. We urge everyone to take the vaccine when it is offered and only seek information about vaccines from reliable sources.
  • As we try to ensure we’re vaccinating vulnerable patients as efficiently as possible, we will be busier than normal. Please be patient and remember that we will always have provision for urgent health needs.

Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact Clare Higgins on

M: 07341737033 E:

Notes to editor

Questions and answers on NI’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme can be found on the Public Health Agency website