The UK now has three Covid vaccinations approved for use, with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already being administered across the nation. The Moderna vaccine was given the green light on 8 January, and is expected to arrive in the UK in spring.
The UK rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began on 8 December 2020, and the AstraZeneca vaccine was first administered on 4 January 2021.
During a Downing Street Briefing on 7 January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that nearly 1.5 million people across the UK had already received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccination. This breaks down as 1.26 million people in England, 113,000 in Scotland, 49,000 in Wales and 46,000 in Northern Ireland.
Hospitals and GP surgeries are already administering Covid vaccines across the UK, with the aim of delivering two million jabs a week.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that vaccine supply was a "rate-limiting" factor to the vaccination programme.
What is the Government’s vaccination rollout plan?
In his address to the nation, the PM said that, if all goes to plan with the opening of more than 1,000 vaccination centres across the UK, there will be “hundreds of thousands” of jabs available per day by 15 January.
Mr Johnson also said that nobody will have to travel more than 10 miles for a vaccine appointment, and hopes that every elderly care home resident will have been offered a jab by the end of January.
The UK Government is focusing on vaccinating four key groups by the middle of February, adding up to a total of around 13 million people.
The four groups include older care home residents and staff, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline NHS and care staff, and all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Addressing plans to vaccine these “top four prority groups,” Mr Johnson said: "If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.
"And of course that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we've endured for so long."
This week, the Government plans to open seven large vaccination centres in venues such as sports stadiums and exhibition centres. These are:
- Robertson House, Stevenage
- The ExCel Centre, London
- The Centre for Life, Newcastle
- The Etihad Tennis Centre, Manchester
- Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey
- Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol
- Millennium Point, Birmingham
Other facilities said to be under consideration include Derby Arena, the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, Malvern’s Three Counties’ Showground in Worcestershire, Villa Park, home of Aston Villa FC, and Leicester Racecourse.
Pharmacies are also already working with GPs in order to deliver the vaccine in many areas of the country.
How many vaccine doses has the UK ordered?
In total, the UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and 30 million of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be shared out among the four nations.
Initially, the strategy for the Pfizer vaccine was to give people the second dose 21 days after their initial jab, as full immunity starts seven days after the second dose. But, when the Oxford vaccine was approved on 30 December, it was announced that this plan would change.
The Government now plans to prioritise giving as many people as possible the first jab of either the Pfizer or Oxford vaccine, instead of providing the required two doses, in order to “protect the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.”
The second dose of the coronavirus vaccine will now be given within 12 weeks of the first being administered.
The Moderna vaccine was approved for use by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on 8 January.
The UK has ordered an additional 10 million doses of this vaccine - taking its total doses to 17 million - and it will be available from spring.
Although only three have been approved for use by the MHRA so far, the DHSC said: “Through the Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 367 million doses of 7 of the most promising vaccines so far.”
Where will vaccinations take place?
Vaccinations will take place in numerous settings, including:
- Hospital hubs, for NHS staff, care staff and older patients
- Thousands of GP surgeries, to the over-80s, initially
- Care homes, to workers and residents
- Sports stadiums and conference centres, which will act as major vaccination hubs for the wider population
The NHS is currently recruiting health professionals to help with the vaccination rollout programme.
According to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC): “An army of current and former NHS staff have applied to become vaccinators, with tens of thousands having already completed their online training.
“These are being processed as quickly as possible and volunteer vaccinators will be deployed as more vaccine supplies become available.”