The Health and Agriculture Ministers are urging the farming and rural community to get the vaccine to protect themselves from Covid-19.

The appeal comes as new initiatives to boost vaccine take-up have been launched.

These include walk-in vaccine clinics at Balmoral Show later this month.

In addition, vaccination will be offered to the farming community through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the Public Health Agency’s collaborative Farm Families Health Checks Programme.

The Health Checks Programme consists of a mobile unit that visits local livestock markets and community events across Northern Ireland.

It offers on-the-spot physical and mental health checks covering such areas as blood pressure monitoring, BMI, cholesterol check and diabetic screening – and now Covid-19 vaccination as well.

‘Every vaccine helps our health service’

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Vaccination is essential to getting through this pandemic. Initiatives to further increase take-up are continuing and these include these specific initiatives tailored for the farming and wider rural community.

“I would urge anyone who has not already come forward for their jab to do so without delay. Vaccination protects us and the people who are close to us.

“Every additional vaccine helps our health service as it faces into an extremely challenging winter period.”

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “I very much welcome the walk-in clinics planned for the Balmoral Show. This is one of the biggest events in the Northern Ireland calendar and those attending will have ready access to vaccination.

“I am also pleased that my department, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, plan in the coming weeks, to facilitate vaccinations in low uptake rural areas through utilising the Farm Families Health Checks staff and mobile screening vehicle.

“The last 18 months have been exceptionally difficult for our farmers and the rural community in general. Vaccination is a crucial part of our route map to better times.”