The UK is the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use. Immunisations could start within days for the most vulnerable.
The UK has already ordered 40m doses, which is enough to vaccinate 20m people. Around 10m doses should soon be available, with the first 800,000 arriving in the UK within days. People will be contacted individually by the NHS when the jab is available for them.
The jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe for rollout next week says British regulator, the MHRA.
Healthcare regulator, the MHRA will give more detail on the approved COVID-19 vaccine at a government briefing shortly and the prime minister will lead a press conference at 5pm today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted “It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, said, “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.” He added that the NHS ‘stands ready’ to begin immunisations next week for people in high priority groups.
Later, the health secretary told the Commons that vaccinations saves lives, and agreed to appear together with his opposite number – shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth – to get vaccinated together.
NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said the health service was preparing for “the largest-scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history”.
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
When you can get the COVID-19 vaccine will depend mainly on your age – with people in care homes and the over-80s at the top of the list. Vaccines for people in these groups could potentially be vaccinated this month.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has stated that health and social care staff and care home workers and are also a priority.
After these groups, the vaccine will be offered to everyone else based on their age – from the oldest to the youngest by next spring.
You’ll be invited to get a vaccine as soon as it’s your turn, probably by letter or text. This could be through your GP surgery, a hospital or care home if you work there, or through vaccination hubs which are being set up around the country.