Come January the NHS will be at the forefront of a major effort to vaccinate the rest of the population starting with elderly groups and those deemed to be at clinical risk from the virus due to other health conditions.
The vaccine is given in two doses, three weeks apart. The UK has ordered enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate 20 million people, a third of the population, which could be completed in the first half of 2021.
It is being manufactured in Belgium with each batch checked as it is delivered before being transported in specialist cool boxes to keep the vaccine in a useable state.
By the middle of next week the first people in the UK to be vaccinated against coronavirus could be getting their inoculations.
The NHS is preparing to coordinate one of the largest vaccination efforts in British history as the health service leads on a nationwide effort to protect millions of citizens.
Across England leading hospitals will be designated as vaccine hubs to start immunising NHS frontline staff and patients. Hub hospitals will be responsible for vaccinating their own staff and making sure neighbouring hospitals can get the jab to their own staff. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow a similar pattern.
The first deliveries of the vaccine to hospitals could come as soon as Tuesday. Because the vaccine needs to be stored at cold temperatures, the 53 hospital hubs will be the main centres for delivery. Once thawed the vaccine can be kept in a fridge for up to five days for use locally.
The initial efforts will be focused on those patients at highest priority including those aged over 80 as well as care home residents and carers. The rest of the population will follow in the coming weeks.
An initial delivery of 800,000 doses, enough for 400,000 people, will be delivered in the next week with more expected before the year end.
As the vaccination programme is widened out it is expected to include mass vaccination drives in school halls and leisure centres as well local community pharmacies an GPs.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, said: “The NHS has decades of experience in delivering highly successful vaccination programmes and has put in an enormous amount of work to get ready to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine to those most in need as quickly as possible.
“Once extensive quality checks have taken place, it can be transported to vaccination sites across the UK and carefully unpacked ready for vaccinations to begin this month, with large-scale vaccination happening in the new year.”
Which hospitals have been designated as vaccine hubs?
- Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust
- Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust
- Dorset County Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
- East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (Colchester Hospital)
- Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust
- James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Kings College Hospital – Princess Royal University Hospital
- Lancashire Teaching Hospital Trust
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Leicester Partnership NHS Trust
- Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Medway NHS Foundation Trust
- Mid and South Essex Hospitals Trust
- Milton Keynes University Hospital
- Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
- Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
- North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
- North West Anglia Foundation Trust
- Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Portsmouth Hospital University Trust
- Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
- Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
- Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust
- Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
- St George’s University Hospitals NHS FT
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- University College Hospitals Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire
- University Hospitals Derby Burton NHS FT
- University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
- University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
- United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
- West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- Wirral University Teaching Hospital
- Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
- Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust