People aged 80 and over, care home workers, and staff of the National Health Service (NHS) will be the first to receive the jab, he said.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) December 5, 2020
The UK approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 2, the first country in the world to do so.
The UK government has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which Pfizer said was “more than 90 percent effective.”
The NHS is working through the weekend to prepare for the launch of the biggest immunisation programme in history, with the first vaccinations being carried out from Tuesday. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.
The first wave of vaccinations will be administered at 50 hospital hubs, and more hospitals will join in as the programme ramps up over the coming weeks.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the first tranche of vaccines will be delivered to hospitals by Monday.
The vaccine is administered by a simple injection in the shoulder, but Powis said the delivery poses “a complex and difficult logistical challenge.”
“It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used,” he explained.
Mass vaccination is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s three-pronged approach of “tiering, testing, and the roll-out of vaccines.”
With the vaccines, Britons can be “sure and certain” that the country “can return to normal next year in the spring,” Johnson said at a press conference last Wednesday.
But the UK’s rapid approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine drew criticism from the European Union, which said that its longer approval procedure was more appropriate, as it was based on more evidence than the UK’s emergency procedure.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, also said UK regulators had not acted “as carefully” as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), though he later apologised and said he had “great faith” in Britain’s scientific and regulatory communities.