Vaccinations also began on December 8 across Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Scotland’s first Covid-19 vaccinations were under way at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. The Western General is one of 23 sites around Scotland which will act as vaccination centres for the priority groups.
The first person to receive the vaccine in Northern Ireland was a 28-year-old nurse from Dundrum in Co Down.
Who will get the jabs first?
Those aged over 80, care home workers, and NHS front-line staff will be targeted first, starting on what the Health Secretary dubbed “V-Day”.
Anyone with a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions will not receive the jab at his time, after two NHS staff members had an allergic reaction to the vaccine on Tuesday.
The pair are recovering well and the precautionary warning issued to NHS Trusts by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is common for new vaccines, according to Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England.
After care homes, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended the population be vaccinated in five-year groups starting with the over-75s.
The JCVI has also stated that key workers will be prioritised in the second phase of the vaccine roll out. Therefore, transport workers, first responders and teachers will be among the first to receive the jab after the most vulnerable.
Sir Simon said the bulk of the vaccination programme will take place from January to April next year.
Initially, the Government was hoping to vaccinate care home residents and staff, as well as the over-80s.
But when the Pfizer jab won the race to be the first approved vaccine, the emphasis shifted to NHS workers as it was believed it would be too hard to distribute the jab, which needs to be kept at around -103F (-75C), to care homes.
However, supply issues have forced another rethink and care home residents and staff will now be targeted first, with NHS Providers working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to find a safe way to deliver doses.
Though, fears for the success of the vaccine rollout have intensified, as it has emerged that up to 40 per cent of care home staff may decide not to have the jab.
A leading charity has now claimed that up to 20 per cent of care workers are adamant they won’t get the vaccine, and potentially 20 per cent of others who are undecided may follow their example.
Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, said: “We understand between about 17 and 20 per cent of staff in services are saying they definitely won’t have it, and then you have the rest who are waiting to see. So, we are looking at potentially 40 per cent who decide not to have it.”
Debate is bubbling over how much power care home providers will have in getting staff vaccinated, as well as who would be held liable if a resident is infected by an unvaccinated staff member.
Some care home owners have criticised the Government for not making it mandatory for workers to be vaccinated.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has also recommended that the vaccine should be prioritised for the elderly and health workers.
Explaining the priorities for who will get the vaccine, chairman of the JCVI Professor Wei Shen Lim said: “Vaccines are offered to protect people who are most at risk from dying of Covid-19, as well as to protect health and social care services, because by doing so we also protect lives.”
The NHS has promised that Britain will receive as many as four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine before 2020 ends. This comes after concerns that much of the public would miss out during the first vaccination wave because of limited supplies.
The next vaccine doses will arrive next week (Dec 14), the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has said.
“The next scheduled arrival will be next week and the numbers depend on how quickly Pfizer can manufacture it,”
“It is being manufactured in Belgium and obviously right across the UK the job is to be able to get the vaccinations done as quickly as the manufacturer can create it, so we’ve been all working together really closely, the UK Government, which has been buying the vaccine and getting it delivered into the country, and then the NHS in the four nations of the UK.”