The MHRA, Britain’s medicines regulator, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for distribution. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the first 800,000 doses would be deployed in the UK next week.
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A detailed list of those who will be prioritised for vaccination will be finalised at a later stage. However, it has been confirmed that people living and working in care homes, over 80s, and NHS staff will be first on the list.
People should wait to be contacted by the NHS if they’re in a priority group.
Hancock said jabs would be distributed as fast as the manufacturing plant in Belgium can make them. There will be "several million" throughout December after the initial batch coming next week.
Speaking to the BBC, Hancock said, "2020 has been just awful and 2021 is going to be better."
"I'm confident now, with the news today, that from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better. And we're going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented that "it's the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again."
The vaccine will be given in hospitals, vaccination centres and within the community by general practitioners and pharmacists.
Vaccination centres will be set up in venues that can hold many people, such as sports stadiums and conference centres. This is both so that a significant number of vaccines can be issued in a timely manner but also so that social distancing can be observed.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens told the BBC health services across the UK are preparing for "the largest-scale vaccination campaign in our country's history".
Many have emphasised that the vaccine rollout does not mean that the tiering system rules can be relaxed and that the public must continue to abide by these rules to stop further spread of COVID-19 and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.
Professor Chris Whitty, the UK government's chief medical advisor, has said, “we can't lower our guard yet."
According to BBC Health Correspondent Nick Triggle, “the biggest hurdle will be supply.”
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70°C, meaning it is much easier to hold the jabs in hospitals with specialist equipment than it will be to hold in the community.
Additionally, a further 10 million doses of the vaccine are due to be deployed by the end of the year. Triggle believes this “is already looking ambitious”.
The government has ordered several other vaccines, with hopes these will be ready to roll out in early 2021.