The provisional timetable – which depends on the authorisation and arrival of millions of vaccines, is as follows:
Care home residents and staff, healthcare workers – from beginning of December;
Ages 80 plus – from mid-December;
Everyone aged 70-80 and ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ people from late December;
Everyone aged 65-70 – from early January;
All high and moderate risk under 65s – from early January;
Everyone aged 50-65 – from mid January; and
Everyone aged 18-50 – from late January; but with the bulk of this group vaccinated during March.
Mr Hancock has said today, December 8, that more hospitals will be added to the list that can start vaccinating people “later today”.
Responding to Conservative MP Holly Mumby-Croft, he said: “We’ve started at 70 hospitals across the UK. Those are the ones that are best able to deal with the difficult logistics of having a vaccine that has to be stored at minus 70.
“But I understand the desire for every hospital to get on that list and we will be publishing a further list later today.”
On December 2, The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Van-Tam, suggested the priority list for vaccinations will cover 99% of Covid-related deaths, meaning restrictions may then begin to come to an end.
The plan would see 88.5 million vaccination doses delivered across England, with two doses per person over the age of 18, by the end of April.
People who were told to shield throughout the pandemic, who are at very high risk of catching coronavirus due to previous health problems, have been given the same priority access as those aged 70 and over, Public Health England has announced.
Anybody over the age of 18 who is categorised as “clinically extremely vulnerable” will therefore receive the same vaccine at the same time as those over 70, according to the official provisional vaccine priority list.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) shared that key workers will also be prioritised in the second phase of the vaccine rollout. This means transport workers, first responders and teachers will be among the first to receive the jab after the most vulnerable.
On December 2, the Prime Minister also went into more detail of how the jab would be implemented across care homes particularly. He said: “Of course we want to get it into care homes as fast as we possibly can”. Though they are waiting to hear more, they are adamant that they will get it to “the most vulnerable”.
Responding to criticism that the temperature of the vaccine would make it hard to be issued around care homes, Professor Van-Tam argued that it was “extremely unfair when one considers a new virus emerged less than 12 months ago and we now have our first vaccine”.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer continued: “This is a complex product. It is not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in several times.”
However, the Scottish Health Secretary announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be delivered to care home residents in Scotland within a fortnight.
Jeane Freeman said talks held on December 3 had confirmed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours, and can also be broken down into smaller packs in “certain conditions”.
Ms Freeman told MSPs this makes the vaccine “more useable with minimum wastage for care home residents and our older citizens”.
She said: “In effect we can take the vaccine to them, or close to them, and we will begin that exercise from December 14.”
Furthermore, Sir Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of the National Health Service, has announced the second doses of the vaccine in January have to be reserved for those getting the first dose in December.
He shared: “We need to be very careful through December and into January and then as vaccination expands to the wider population”.
Sir Stevens added how a phasing of delivery would involve 50’ hospital hubs’ which will offer the jab from the week beginning December 7 to the over-80s, care home staff and others identified by the JVCI.
The Chief Executive also said that patients are likely to be people who were scheduled to attend outpatient appointments, which will eventually be followed by over 1,000 vaccination centres over time.
Pressure may mount on political leaders to vaccinate their citizens first, but an inequitable distribution of vaccines globally could prolong the pandemic for everyone. Read The Telegraph‘s full analysis here.