It has been confirmed that all parts of the UK have now received a supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for nationwide rollout tomorrow.
Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs across the country from tomorrow – reportedly dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock – with people aged 80 and older, care home workers, and NHS workers who are at higher risk, among those at the front of the queue.
It comes after the UK last week became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use.
Pfizer and BioNTech reported final trial results on 18th November, showing its vaccine was 95% effective in preventing coronavirus (COVID-19), with no major safety concerns.
Studies have shown the jab works in all age groups.
The UK government is confirmed to have ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine – which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as two doses are required – and there are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.
There are 50 initial hubs in the first wave of the vaccination programme in England.
Although it is not currently known when exactly all 50 hubs will receive vaccine doses – as they are starting to administer the jab at different times, with deliveries are expected throughout the week – more hospitals will begin to vaccinate in due course as the programme ramps up.
Saffron Cordery – Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers – said many hospital hubs had received their allocation of the initial 800,000 doses, and she expected there would be up to four million doses in the country by the end of December.
Staff at seven NHS hospitals across the North West – including two major Greater Manchester locations – are preparing to administer the vaccine tomorrow.
- Blackpool Teaching Hospitals
- Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust
- Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
- Liverpool University Hospitals
- Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
- Wirral University Teaching Hospital
- Countess of Chester Hospital
The UK’s leading medical professionals have been offering insight and reassurance to those who fall under JCVI’s priority list for vaccination rollout.
Professor Stephen Powis – National Medical Director at the NHS – said the distribution of the vaccine would be a “marathon not a sprint”, while Chris Hopson – Chief Executive of NHS Providers – said people need to “hang fire” and be assured they have not been forgotten if they have not received a letter or a phone call about the jab.
Mr Hopson added: “I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.”
JCVI’s priority list for the first phase of the vaccine rollout is as follows:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over & frontline health and social care workers.
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over & clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
- All those 65 years of age and over.
- All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
- All those 60 years of age and over.
- All those 55 years of age and over.
- All those 50 years of age and over.
The distribution of the vaccine across the UK is being undertaken by Public Health England and the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through systems specially adapted from those used for the national immunisation programmes.
After going through final quality control checks, batches will be placed in freezers to ensure they are kept at the right temperature until being used.
While NHS staff and hospital hubs are gearing up to administer the vaccine from tomorrow, there has however been challenges identified to overcome with vaccinating care home residents, despite them being at the top of the priority list.
Logistical issues mean there are difficulties in delivering the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to residents, as it needs to be stored at minus 70°C before being thawed out, and can only be moved up to four times within that cold chain before being used.
The vaccine boxes containing 975 doses will need to be split so they can be taken to care homes.
Mr Hopson has now said this rollout would begin in around a week’s time and would be led by primary care networks.
You can find more information regarding the UK’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine here.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.