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.
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.
Chester Zoo is giving away 35,000 FREE tickets to children
Chester Zoo is giving away tickets to local schools to help inspire a whole new generation of young conservationists.
The UK’s largest charity zoo is on a mission to help nature to “survive and thrive”.
And so, in a bid to do just that, has announced that it will once again be handing out tens of thousands of tickets to schoolchildren for completely free of charge, so that they can explore the zoo up close and learn all about the inspiring work the conservation charity does.
Chester Zoo‘s free ticket scheme has been running since 2017, and has already seen more than 100,000 children get to experience all the wonders the zoo has to offer.
With the hopes of empowering as many youngsters as possible, and sparking their passion for saving species once again, the zoo has now opened the scheme back up for the 2024/25 season – with a whopping 35,000 tickets available for schools, nurseries, and colleges to claim.
Not only that, but the zoo has also decided to open the initiative up to the education providers that haven’t benefited from the scheme within the last three years.
Every school participating in the programme will receive a free resource pack to help maximise the educational impact of their zoo visit.
“Every one of us is a custodian of our natural world,” commented Charlotte Smith, who is the Director of Conservation Education and Engagement at Chester Zoo, “But it’s the next generation of conservationists who are fundamentally important to overcoming the environmental and biodiversity challenges our planet is facing.
“They are inspiring and they give us hope, which is why we’re so keen to connect them with the awe and wonder of nature and help to nurture their passion and desire to make a difference.
“It’s proven that a visit to the zoo can significantly enhance people’s understanding of the huge efforts that go into conserving highly threatened species, while also bringing physical and mental health benefits.
“That’s why we particularly want to reach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative, so we can provide them with the skills and know-how to go on and make a real, positive difference to wildlife in their everyday lives.”
The zoo is hoping to help inspire a whole new generation of young conservationists / Credit: Chester Zoo
Applications for Chester Zoo’s Free School Visits programme are now open, with free visits able to take place between Friday 1 November 2024 – Friday 28 February 2025, and any forms that are incomplete or received after the deadline date of Friday 22 March 2024 are unable to be processed.
The scheme is open exclusively for nurseries, schools, and college groups.
Places are open to schools who haven’t taken advantage of the scheme in the last four academic years, and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so the zoo is advising that people complete and submit the application form at “your earliest opportunity” to make sure they don’t miss out.