Balmoral 2021: Farmers urged to take time to save lives

Visitors to this year’s Balmoral Show are being urged to take the time to save lives by getting their Covid-19 vaccine at this year’s show.

Vaccination lead Alison Ferris, from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, said several farmers attending the show had said they “hadn’t time” to get the jab.

“A lot of what we are hearing from farming folk is, ‘We work outdoors, we work on our own’, but that’s not necessarily going to protect you because you have family connections and interactions,” she said.

“A couple of people who have come in have had Covid [at one point] and that has stopped them from getting it – you can’t get the vaccine until after 28 days after their first positive test. So we have had a few people who have planned on getting the vaccine and put it off but then have got Covid and couldn’t get it for a while.

We have had other people who have said they haven’t had time. I suppose what we are doing here is we are taking the vaccine to people and all we can do is offer it.”

And based right by the ringside, the vaccination centre certainly couldn’t be any closer to the action at Balmoral.

Speaking to Agriland today (September 23), Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said he had been speaking to two young tradesmen at the weekend who said they “hadn’t time” to get the vaccine.

“One was out of work for a fortnight and one was out of work for 10 days, so they had plenty of time then when they were sick so 10 or 20 minutes of their time to get the vaccine would have been a much better use of their time,” he said.

Ferris said: “I have talked to a few exhibitors who have said that they want to get their vaccine but they want to wait until the end of the show week in case they have any reaction.

We have had lots of interest and we have been able to get lots of people their first dose and some have even been able to get their second dose here, which is great.”

Anyone who gets their first dose of the vaccine at the show will be able to get their second dose either at a pharmacy or a pop-up clinic.

“Every person that comes through makes a difference. We have Pfizer for the 16 to 17-year-olds and we have Moderna for those who are 18-plus,” Ferris said.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust team will be on hand offering vaccines from Wednesday until Saturday for the duration of the show’s opening hours.

Those who attend the show are asked to bring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within 48 hours of entry.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The Balmoral Show is an important date in the calendar for many farming families and the wider rural community in Northern Ireland so it’s great to have it back again.

“I would urge anyone who is planning to visit the show over the next few days to use the opportunity to visit the clinic and get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so. Vaccination will help protect you and the people who are close to you.”