The Government has published its Covid-19 vaccination programme, which aims to vaccinate tens of millions of people by the spring at over 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that two-fifths of people over the age of 80 years have now been vaccinated and 2.6m doses of the vaccine have been given to 2.3m people.
The UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan sets out how the government will work with the NHS, devolved administrations, local councils and the armed forces to deliver the largest vaccination programme in British history.
By the end of January, everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site or, for a small number of highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams. There will also be capacity to deliver at least two million vaccinations in England per week by the end of January and all residents and staff in over 10,000 care homes across the country will be offered a vaccine by the end of the month.
Top four priority groups account for 88% of Covid-19 deaths
The 47-page plan also reiterates the commitment to offer the first vaccine dose to all those in the top four priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) by 15 February. With these groups accounting for 88% of Covid-19 fatalities, the move will prevent thousands of deaths once their immunity develops in 14 days.
This would account for almost half of the priority groups in phase one, with all nine high-risk groups for phase one of the programme being vaccinated by spring.
Phase 2 will look at the best tactics for achieving protection for the whole UK population, and may include vaccination of those at high risk of catching Covid-19 or delivering key public services. The JCVI will consider all available evidence for phase 2 recommendations of the vaccination programme.
The expansion of the programme will also mean all adults will be offered a vaccine by the autumn.
Over 80,000 health professionals delivering vaccines
A workforce of over 80,000 health professionals are helping to deliver the programme across the different vaccination sites, with over 200,000 additional members of the public expressing their interest in helping with the non-clinical elements of the rollout such as administrative support, logistics, stewards and first aiders.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Our vaccine deployment plan sets out exactly how we will harness these efforts to expand the programme quickly and safely. Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks.
"The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year."
The plan is split into four main areas:
- supply – including the development and manufacturing of vaccines, ensuring their safety and effectiveness
- prioritisation – insight into the first 2 phases of deployment
- places – ensuring simple, fair and convenient access to vaccinations for the public, regardless of where they live
- people – mobilising the workforce and providing information on vaccinations to local communities.
Public Health England (PHE) is also today publishing the surveillance strategy for the Covid-19 vaccine programme which sets out how data from surveillance is used to analyse vaccine effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 and severe disease, as well as the impact of the vaccination programme on the population as a whole.
Over two million people in the UK have now been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines since the vaccination programme began.
Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, said: "The UK vaccines delivery plan is a culmination of all our hard work so far, and sets some very promising and challenging ambitions for the next few months.
"I have every faith the NHS will rise to the task and meet these ambitions, providing thousands of vulnerable and at risk individuals that crucial extra protection they need."