Care home residents will be prioritised in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Northern Ireland.
The first jabs are set to be distributed to vaccinators in the region on Tuesday morning.
Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said deployment of the vaccine to care homes will proceed in the coming days.
“This will be a hugely important day and we can to look forward into next year with a degree of optimism,” he said.
“However, it needs to be stressed again and again that vaccination of the population is a massive undertaking that will take many months to complete.
“It is well documented that the logistical requirements for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine pose particular challenges for care home deployment.
“We have been working very hard on these issues, in consultation with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). I am pleased to be able to confirm that we are satisfied that deployment to care homes can now proceed in the coming days.
“The solution involves mobile teams operating from the different trust vaccination centres located across the province.
“I know confirmation of these plans will be very welcome news for care home residents, their families and staff. We are currently considering how these arrangements might be extended to include over-80s in the community.”
Now is not the time to drop our guard, we still have many challenging months aheadRobin Swann
Mr Swann repeated his plea for continued patience and “maximum vigilance”.
“Now is not the time to drop our guard, we still have many challenging months ahead,” he said.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK on December 2, with the first consignment arriving in Northern Ireland two days later.
People in the region have been playing their part in the development of a potential new vaccine as part of a UK-wide trial.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-supported Novavax Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial has achieved its recruitment target of 15,203 volunteers, two months after opening in the UK – including 482 participants from Northern Ireland.
This is the first Covid-19 vaccine trial to take place in Northern Ireland and the number recruited surpassed the original target of 350.
Interim data from this trial is expected as soon as early 2021.
Earlier on Monday it emerged that a further nine people had died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, taking the total to 1,059.
According to Department of Health statistics, a further 397 people had tested positive for the virus.