There were no Covid-19 deaths reported on the island of Ireland on Sunday, in one of the brightest days of the pandemic for months.
It was the first 24-hour period since mid October when no deaths linked to Covid-19 were announced by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, although a further 143 new cases were diagnosed.
Despite Sunday's positive development, a difference of opinion over the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been causing officials in Northern Ireland a headache over the weekend.
On Saturday night, officials in the Republic of Ireland announced the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid concerns over its safety.
The country's National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommended the move after reports of serious blood clotting incidents in adults in Norway, with the Republic's Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, describing the measure as "precautionary".
Health officials in Northern Ireland monitored the situation over the weekend and on Sunday night the Department of Health announced that the roll-out of the vaccination programme here will continue. It followed updated advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is the UK regulatory body for medicines and approves vaccines for public use when it is satisfied on grounds of safety and effectiveness.
It issued a statement on Sunday, which said: "We are aware of the action in Ireland. We are closely reviewing reports but given the large number of doses administered, and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause."
A statement from the Department of Health subsequently said: "In line with MHRA guidance, the roll-out of Northern Ireland's vaccination programme will continue. A further expansion of the programme will be announced very shortly. AstraZeneca vaccines are helping to protect the most vulnerable in our community from Covid-19, saving lives and reducing hospitalisation levels."
Dr Alan Stout, chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said: "It is very important that anyone in Northern Ireland who has a vaccine appointment scheduled keeps it and attends as planned.
"We are confident that the vaccine is extremely safe to use and it is one of the key facets of our fight against Covid-19. Your GP is ideally placed to discuss any concerns you have around the vaccine when you come for your appointment."
Meanwhile, the Northern Trust has released a video of Dr Darshan Kumar, a consultant in acute medicine at Antrim Area Hospital, receiving his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in a bid to encourage as many health service staff as possible to have the vaccine.
Speaking before he received the second dose, Dr Kumar said he had not suffered any adverse reactions after the first dose.
He said: "I want to give this message to all my colleagues - Covid vaccination is important, it's very simple, it contains a protein which helps us boost our immune system. It has nothing more than that. It is safe, I have already had my first vaccine, this is my second one and I am looking forward to it because it's safe for me, it's safe for my colleagues. Remember, we are in this together."