Health officials in Northern Ireland have ruled out bringing forward the beginning of the Covid vaccination programme by GPs.
The Department of Health has said it is planning for family doctors to begin administering Covid-19 vaccinations to patients in January.
It comes after the NHS announced the vaccination programme in England will be expanded out to GP surgeries from next week.
Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected to be delivered to around 200 GP surgeries across England, initially to allow them to start administering them to the public on Tuesday.
The over-80s will be invited to attend first.
Once the first 200 GP practices have received their doses the programme will be expanded out to more than 1,000 surgeries - with each local area having a designated site.
However, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland does not currently have plans to extend the vaccination programme to GP surgeries.
A spokeswoman from the Department said the logistical challenges relating to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are the reason why it is not suitable to be deployed to and stored at GP surgeries.
It must be stored at -70C and prepared for administration by a pharmacist.
It is understood that GP surgeries in Northern Ireland will instead receive doses of the vaccine that has been developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. However, it has not yet been approved as safe by the regulator.
Commenting on the expansion of the programme in England, the Department of Health spokeswoman said: "In the initial phase of the vaccination programme, given the constraints of the deployability of the Pfizer-BioNTech product, the vaccine will be administered mainly through vaccination centres operating under the direction and governance of health and social care trusts.
"Subject to the availability of a suitable vaccine, from early January 2021, it is intended to roll out the programme through primary care led vaccination clinics which will be responsible for the vaccination of the vast majority of eligible individuals."
GPs were originally told they would be responsible for delivering the vaccine to all patients, beginning with the over-80s. However, the Department of Health has said it is looking at ways this cohort could receive the vaccine before next year.
Officials are keen to vaccinate as many high-risk groups as quickly as possible to reduce the number of people who fall seriously ill with Covid-19 in the coming months.
The Department of Health spokeswoman continued: "All health and social care staff in Northern Ireland will be offered the Covid-19 vaccine as an early priority.
"In light of the planned delivery schedules of the vaccine in December and January this will be phased. Ultimately all health and social care workers will have the opportunity to be vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and patients as soon as sufficient quantities of a vaccine become available, which is expected to be within the first quarter of 2021."