An anti-vaccination group targeted young female healthcare staff and told them the Covid-19 jab would affect their fertility, it has emerged.
Health Minister Robin Swann told the Stormont health committee that a group of anti-vax campaigners staged a protest outside a trust vaccination centre last week.
He said the message being given to trust staff as they arrived for their vaccine was “quite negative, quite wrong, potentially quite damaging”.
Mr Swann also defended the decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for frontline healthcare staff.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors across the UK, has been highly critical of the move and has said there is no evidence to prove that the move is safe.
However, Mr Swann said taking the step will ensure more people are vaccinated more quickly, which will increase the number of people who have some immunity to Covid-19.
He said the decision has the backing of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Sage and independent Sage.
Mr Swann also ruled out the possibility of using the military to support Northern Ireland’s struggling ambulance service.
He said there are plans to use police officers and firefighters to drive ambulances but it is not possible to deploy the military.
He explained they are “not certified drivers in Northern Ireland” so they would still need to be accompanied by another blue light vehicle.
He was asked about using military personnel to help roll out the vaccination programme but Mr Swann said a significant proportion of military reservists are already employed by the health service in Northern Ireland.
“I only wish there was a battalion of ICU nurses I could call on,” he said.