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Queues in Belfast for vaccines that come with music festival tickets

The initiative comes as the youngest age groups have proven the slowest in Northern Ireland to take up the vaccine.

Paul van Dyke is one of the DJs playing the Féile this weekend,
Paul van Dyke is one of the DJs playing the Féile this weekend,
Image: PA Images

THERE WAS AN early morning queue from 6am in west Belfast for Covid-19 vaccinations and the chance of festival tickets.

The first 500 who received the Pfizer jab at Falls Park walked away with free tickets to Féile an Phobail’s diversionary Féile Music Night.

The event at Falls Park on  August 8 features international DJs Paul Van Dyk and Judge Jules.

The initiative comes as the youngest age groups have proven the slowest in Northern Ireland to take up the vaccine. As of last Thursday, 59.4% of 18 to 29-year-olds in Northern Ireland have taken up a vaccine. 

The next lowest uptake rate is 70% for the 30-39 year olds. All the age cohorts over the age of 60 have a 100% uptake rate.

Peter Berne was one of the first to emerge after receiving his Pfizer jab and his free ticket today.

Also among the lucky first 500 were mother and daughter Geraldine McCabe and Fionnuala McLoughlin who said they were going to get the vaccine anyway but the tickets were a bonus.

coronavirus-tue-aug-3-2021 Peter Berne holds his free ticket this morning. Source: PA Images

Feile an Phobail director Kevin Gamble said they had been working very closely with the Department of Health to plan events in the safest way possible this year.

“Feile an Phobail over the last 34 years has always shown leadership, particularly in west Belfast and north Belfast, and if we can help support the health trusts in driving up the vaccinations, this is us playing a very small part in that process,” he said.

Feile’s diversionary night is one of the most popular nights in the city every year, thinking outside the box, we thought how we can we drive up the vaccination programme in west Belfast and particularly get young people vaccinated, and we came up with the idea of encouraging young people to come along, get their first dose of the vaccination and in return they would get a ticket for the diversionary night.

Gamble said they were delighted to bring back live events this year after last year’s lockdown, adding that the demand for tickets has been enormous.

“If you think back to when the pandemic started, the arts were one of the first sectors to close down and one of the last to reopen, so we’ve been working very hard to show that we can get back to live events and get back to doing what we do best which is entertaining the public,” he said.

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coronavirus-tue-aug-3-2021 Festival goers at Feile an Phobail queuing to receive their first vaccination. Source: PA Images

Joanna Hogg, the nurse in charge of the vaccination programme at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, said they were delighted at the turnout.

“It was really lovely to see and there was a nice buzz about the place, very positive and the Feile team have been amazing, helping us set up,” she said.

The mobile vaccination team’s main incentive is to set up in areas that are more accessible to the younger age group and maybe at different times to when the vaccination centres would be open.

“It’s been a brilliant collaboration.”

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