Covid-19 vaccination programme underway in the UK
From the beginning of January people at high risk of coronavirus among first to receive jab.
The NHS kickstarted the rollout of the new Covid-19 (coronavirus) vaccine with patients at Oxford University Hospital the very first to get the life-saving jab earlier this year.
The NHS became the first health service in the world to deliver the life-saving jab, which was approved at the end of 2020, in the beginning stages of the phased vaccine programme.
Hundreds of new vaccination sites were opened to administer the vaccinations across the UK.
At the time of writing around 9 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the vaccination.
The first Oxford AstraZeneca vaccinations were delivered at a small number of hospitals for the first few days for surveillance purposes, as is standard practice, before the bulk of supplies were sent to hundreds of GP-led services throughout the month.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The delivery of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine marks another first for the NHS, and a major milestone in humanity’s battle against coronavirus.
“The vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history – has got off to a strong start, and by New Year’s Day we had been able to vaccinate more people than the rest of Europe combined. Now we have a second, more versatile, jab in our armoury, and NHS staff are expanding the programme as extra vaccine supplies come onstream, and the arrival of the Oxford jab, coupled with more Pfizer vaccine being made available, will allow us to protect many more people faster.”
Oxford University NHS Hospitals Trust, where the vaccine was developed, was among the first sites to administer the treatment.
On 4th January dialysis patient Brian Pinker became the very first person to be vaccinated by the hospital’s chief nurse with the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca jab.
Brian, aged 82, a retired maintenance manager who has been having dialysis for kidney disease at the hospital for a number of years, was pleased to be getting protection against the virus giving him peace of mind as he continues to receive treatment and is now looking forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary with wife Shirley in February.
He said: “I am so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford. The nurses, doctors and staff today have all been brilliant and I can now really look forward to celebrating my 48th wedding anniversary with my wife Shirley later this year.”
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS Medical Director, said: “The NHS’ biggest vaccination programme in history is off to a strong start, thanks to the tremendous efforts of NHS staff who have already delivered more than one million jabs.
“Throughout the pandemic their response has been phenomenal from introducing world-leading treatments for coronavirus which have saved patients’ lives as well as delivering the very first Covid-19 vaccines outside of a trial in a landmark moment in history, and now rolling out the new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, chalking up another world first that will protect thousands more over the coming weeks.”
The new Oxford vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer jab, which has to be kept at minus 70 degrees until shortly before it is used, making it easier to deliver in care homes.
The NHS is giving GPs an extra £10 for every care home resident that they vaccinate by the end of the month.
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said: “It was an incredibly proud moment for me to have received the actual vaccine that the University of Oxford and the AstraZeneca teams have worked so hard to make available to the UK and the world. As a paediatrician specialising in infections, I know how important it is that healthcare workers along with other priority groups are protected as soon as possible – a crucial role in defeating this terrible disease.”
In December 2020, regulators and the four UK chief medical officers announced that the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine should be lengthened so that more people can be protected faster.
The NHS has now vaccinated more people than anywhere else in Europe, including more than one in five people over the age of 80.
Earlier this year a third vaccine developed by Moderna became the third Covid-19 vaccine approved for use by UK regulators the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after meeting the required safety, quality and effectiveness standards.
Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “Having a third Covid-19 vaccine approved for supply following a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data is an important goal to have achieved and I am proud that the agency has helped to make this a reality.
“The progress we are now making for vaccines on the regulatory front, whilst not cutting any corners, is helping in our global fight against this disease and ultimately helping to save lives. I want to echo that our goal is always to put the protection of the public first.
Once in use, all Covid-19 vaccines are continually monitored by the MHRA. This ensures that the benefits in protecting people against Covid-19 continue to far outweigh any potential side-effects. Meantime, even if you have had a vaccine it is vital that everyone follows the national lockdown restrictions and remembers ‘stay alert, protect the NHS and save lives’ at all times.”
As previously reported, almost one in three of all deaths from coronavirus among people in hospital in England during the Covid-19 pandemic have been associated with diabetes.
A follow-up NHS report confirmed that people living with diabetes are at a significantly increased risk if they get Covid-19 compared to people without the condition.
The news highlighted the importance for people with diabetes to self-isolate as much as possible in line with government Covid-19 lockdown guidelines.
The NHS is currently offering the Covid-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus The vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs. An NHS statement said: “The coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.”
The advice from NHS is “Wait to be contacted”.
The NHS will let you know when it is your turn to have the vaccine.
It is important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
The NHS has released guidance to update people on the safety of the covid-19 vaccinations being rolled-out across the UK.
NHS: Why vaccination is safe and important
Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases.
The NHS has published a reminder how vaccines work, what they contain and the most common side effects.
An NHS statement said: “Important: Be aware that anti-vaccine stories are spread online through social media. They may not be based on scientific evidence and could put you at risk of a serious illness.”