The vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history – is off to a strong start, and more than 1.3million doses have now been delivered across the country, covering almost one in four people over the age of 80.
NHS teams have been working hard over the last month to deliver the Pfizer vaccine in hundreds of hospital hubs, local GP-led services and care homes, at the same time as providing care to all those who need it and the rising number of COVID cases.
The approval of a UK-developed and manufactured vaccine provides a major boost to our plans to offer protection to those who would benefit most as quickly as possible, including health and care staff. The NHS will continue to increase its capacity to deliver the vaccine with hundreds of additional local vaccinations services, hospital hubs and vaccination centres coming on-line over the coming weeks as supplies allow.
The new guidance from the JCVI on prioritising giving more people their first dose also means that we will be to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.
This is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken. It is a huge challenge, and not everything will always go perfectly. The NHS is well-used to delivering millions of vaccines a year and is moving quickly to roll out this vaccine to those who need it,. Our ambition, if supplies allow, is to have offered vaccines to the most vulnerable 13 million people by the middle of February.
But it’s important that we remember this will be a marathon, not a sprint. The large increase in cases hospitals are seeing and the emergence of a new variant of the virus also shows that we cannot let our guard down now and underlines the importance of offering the first dose to as many people as possible quickly. But even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing guidance.
NHS staff are doing an incredible job to deliver what it is the largest vaccination programme in our history, at the same time as continuing to be there for everyone who needs care. The public have an important part to play to help them do this:
please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments;
and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.