LONDON – The UK’s National Health Service will launch its first Western coronavirus mass immunization program on Tuesday, with seniors and healthcare professionals first in line.
Following approval by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on 2 December, the first doses of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine have arrived in the UK from Belgium and 50 vaccination buds in hospitals have been set up. The NHS says that people over the age of 80 who go to hospital for outpatient care as well as those who are discharged from hospital will be among the first to receive the vaccine.
In a statement today, the NHS said that hospitals will also start inviting others over the age of 80 to the vaccination and that it would “work with caregivers” to book its staff to vaccination clinics.
While the residents of the nursing homes were supposed to be among the first to receive a vaccine, the government said on December 4 that getting the vaccine to the residents is “challenging” and details of how this will work have not yet been published. Instead, only nursing home staff can be vaccinated on hospital hubs.
From the week beginning on December 14, community vaccination of general physician-led networks will begin on a small scale.
The BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. It can then be thawed and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.