As reported by BBC news, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine will be rolled out to hundreds of GP-run vaccination sites in local communities in England later
As part of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, the aim is to offer jabs to most care home residents by the end of January. By mid-February, the target is to vaccinate 13m people in the top four priority groups. More than 700 local vaccination sites will administer the jabs.
Another 180 GP-led sites, 100 new hospital sites and a pilot scheme involving local pharmacies will open this week. It comes after the UK reported another 1,041 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, the highest daily death toll since April. And 62,322 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, the highest daily rise since mass testing began.
England is now under a third national lockdown – in a bid to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed by the surge in coronavirus cases. Under the latest rules, people must stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons, and schools have closed to most pupils.
Next week, seven major vaccination hubs across England are set to begin operating, including the Excel Centre in London and Millennium Point in Birmingham.
The Oxford jab was initially given to patients in selected hospitals, including first recipient 82-year-old Brian Pinker, and will now be made available to thousands more vulnerable people at community-based sites near to where they live. Because it does not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, it can be transported and stored more easily, making it simpler to vaccinate housebound people and those in care homes.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved by the UK’s medicines regulator in early December, followed by the British-made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine four weeks later.
Around half a million doses of both vaccines are ready to be used this week, with millions more in the pipeline in the coming weeks.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and medical director for primary care at NHS England, said the vaccination programme was “already off to a strong start with around one million people already vaccinated against coronavirus”.
She said GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers had been working “around the clock” to be able to launch almost 200 more sites this week.
“We will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster,” Dr Kanani said.
Nearly a quarter of the over-80s in England have now been vaccinated, around 650,000 people, since Margaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to receive a Covid vaccine in December.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “delighted” care homes residents would begin receiving their first Oxford-AZ jabs this week.
“This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save tens of thousands of lives,” he said.
“As our vaccination programme ramps up, I urge everybody to continue following the latest restrictions to keep cases low and protect loved ones.”