The UK has launched its largest vaccination programme in history in a bid to protect tens of millions of people within months.
Ministers have pinned their hopes on vaccinating the most vulnerable in society by the spring, in order to lift the country from its third national lockdown.
However, there are huge challenges, not least the unprecedented size and scale of the task but also the need for rigorous safety checks and deep-freeze storage as well as establishing enough vaccination centres and recruiting enough vaccinators.
What is the plan?
The target for the Government is to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February. This will include care home residents and staff, frontline NHS staff, everyone over 70 and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
The rollout of the vaccine to the most vulnerable people is critical to reducing the death toll and relieving the pressure on the NHS.
There are nine priority groups identified by the Government and the vaccines are being given to the most vulnerable first, which will cover around 30 million people.
January to mid-February
· Care home residents and care home workers
· People aged 80+ and frontline health and social care workers
· Ages 75-79
· 70 – 74 and clinically extreme vulnerable people
· Ages 65-69
· 16-64 with underlying health conditions
· Ages 60 -64
· Ages 55 – 59
· Ages 50 – 54
*Source: Government Briefing, Department of Health
In order to meet this target, Ministers will need to deliver over 2 million vaccinations per week by the end of January, which makes it one of the largest civilian logistics operations ever launched in Britain.
The NHS began by administering a vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech, closely followed by the approval of a vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca. A third vaccine from US based Moderna was approved in the first week of 2021.