More hospitals set to deliver COVID-19 vaccine

Hospitals from Devon to Birmingham and Lancashire are set to join the network of sites across England delivering the world-leading COVID-19 vaccine programme.

Tens of thousands of people will be vaccinated this week following the first in the world jab in Coventry on 8th December.

Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, became the first to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 jab, following its clinical approval.

Health chiefs have welcomed the hugely positive response from the public to protecting themselves, friends and families against coronavirus, but reminded people to wait for an invite to get vaccinated, rather than contacting their GP.

The months-long campaign to get the country protected against COVID-19 is bolstered today with confirmation that more hospitals are now fully ready and prepared with appropriate plans to deliver the jab, including hospitals in Leicester and Kent, where infection rates have been high.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: “Having witnessed the excitement and significance of the first jab, it is extremely important and encouraging that more hospitals in every region of England are joining the mass mobilisation of the NHS to get people vaccinated.

“The vaccination programme is a turning point for the country, and rightly NHS staff are prioritising those most at risk of the virus, with the programme expanding over the coming months, so when the time comes for you to get your jab, the NHS will let you know and I strongly encourage you to accept the invite.”

In line with expert advice, the phased vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, prioritised to receive the life-saving jab in the first wave of delivery.

Care home providers are also being asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to begin booking staff into vaccination clinics. GPs are also expected to be able to begin vaccinating care home residents.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Health chiefs have set out how they will deliver the mammoth task ahead, using hospital hubs, vaccination centres and other community locations as well as GP practices and pharmacies.

The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder but there is a complex logistical challenge to deliver from the manufacturers to patients. It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain ahead of use.

Yesterday, the MHRA has issued further guidance on the safety of the vaccine. This updated information clarifies that people with a history of significant allergic reactions, should not take the vaccine.