This week, the UK Government set out its Coronavirus vaccine delivery plan, setting out how it hopes to roll-out the largest vaccination programme in NHS history.
Efforts to rollout Coronavirus vaccines in the UK have been ramped up recently and more and more vaccination centres are opening this week. So far, the UK has vaccinated more people than any other country in the world, hoping that vaccines can bring an end to restrictions on all our lives later this year.
So, here’s a look at some of the key points from the plan for vaccinating the UK against COVID-19.
Who can expect to get the vaccine when?
The Government is aiming to complete at least 2 million vaccinations per week through over 2,700 vaccine sites across the UK.
By 15 February, the Government aims to have offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the JCVI – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. According to official data, this accounts for around 15 million people of the UK’s population and around 88% of all deaths from COVID-19 in the UK are in these cohorts. The cohorts include;
- all residents in a care home and older adults and their carers
- all those aged 80 and over and frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 75 or over
- all those aged 70 or over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals under 70 years of age
The Government’s top priority is to ensure that everyone in the above cohorts is offered the opportunity to be vaccinated against the virus by 15 February. Once achieved, the Government aims for other people to be offered a first vaccine dose in the following order, according to the order identified by the JCVI;
- all those aged 65-69
- all those considered at risk under the age of 65
- all those aged 60-64
- all those aged 55-59
- all those aged 50-54
The above cohorts account for around 32 million people of the UK’s population and around 11% of all deaths from COVID-19 in the UK are in these cohorts. The Government aims to offer people in these cohorts a first dose of the vaccine by the Spring.
The rest of the UK’s adult population accounts for around 21 million people, though only 1% of deaths from Coronavirus have been attributed to this cohort. The vaccination programme is aiming to achieve 100% coverage for all cohorts, though exact details of when young people will be offered the vaccine are yet to be announced. The Government has said that it aims to have every UK adult vaccinated by the Autumn, though some data has suggested this could happen even earlier.
How will this be achieved?
By the end of January, the Government aims to have the capacity in England to vaccinate several hundred thousand people a day and at least 2 million per each week. In order to do this, there will be 206 hospital hub sites setup, around 1,200 local vaccination service sites including surgeries and pharmacies and 50 vaccination centres.
When people are eligible for vaccination, they will be contacted by phone call, text message or letter and invited to schedule an appointment. People may receive multiple invitations so that they choose the most convenient site for them to visit.
NHS staff, former clinicians, care staff and students are involved in delivering the vaccine. New legislation has also allowed more professions to administer the vaccine, including midwives, dentists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, paramedics, radiographers and more. Workers from other industries are also supporting vaccination efforts in different roles, such as Cabin Crew and others that have seen their work halted by the pandemic. A large number of volunteers are additionally helping in vaccine centres as stewards.
What about a second dose of the vaccine?
The currently approved Coronavirus vaccines in the UK are recommended to be administered through two doses. Trials showed that people developed some immunity from the virus after the first dose, and then a second dose can top this up further. However, to try and get more people vaccinated, the decision was made in the UK to delay second doses of the vaccine.
However, it is important to note that there is some certainty over getting the second dose of the vaccine. When you are invited to book your first dose, you are also invited to book your second dose to be taken around 11 to 12 weeks after the first.