“The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan," Hancock said, and will roll the new vaccine out “far and wide across the UK, as quickly as we receive it.”
“And because the clinical advice says people get protection after the first dose, we can accelerate this rollout even further,” he said.
“But we can also use this vaccine in primary care, we can take it to care homes,” he said.
“It just needs normal fridge temperature, rather than the minus 70 super-cold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires, so we’ll get going on this from Monday,” he added.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine approval was also hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “a triumph for British science” and as “truly fantastic news.”
He said, “We’ve always known a vaccine is the exit route from this pandemic.”
'Pre-Ordered 100 Million Doses'He called it a “real British success story” and said because the easy-to-store, low-cost vaccine “will save lives everywhere,” the approval was a “moment of cheer for the whole nation and indeed the whole world.”
“We’ve spent months preparing for this moment,” he said.
“We’ve pre-ordered 100 million doses and from Monday [Jan. 4] we will deploy it far and wide according to clinical need, not ability to pay,” he added.
However, Hancock tempered his message of the “freedom within our grasp” with a warning of “tough winter weeks ahead.”
While the “vital work rolling out the vaccine takes place,” we should “take comfort in the fact that help is on its way” but “all do our bit following the rules that keep the virus at bay,” he said.
Vaccination Not MandatoryDespite Hancock citing vaccines as the only gateway to freedom from the increasingly stringent curbs put in place to slow the spread of the CCP virus, vaccination is not mandatory in the UK, including for health and social care staff.
He said this was “not least because … the vast majority of people are going to want to have it,” and that the UK has “one of the highest enthusiasms for taking a vaccine out of all countries in the world.”