Thirty-two million people vaccinated by spring and army of 200,000 volunteers on standby
Theatres and hotels will be turned into mass vaccination centres in a bid to roll out the biggest vaccination programme in UK history, under Government plans.
A 47-page vaccine delivery plan published on Monday says 32 million doses should be administered by spring, covering everyone over the age of 50, as well as some younger people with health problems.
And it says more than 200,000 people and businesses have now volunteered to take part in the national effort.
Some of the targets are familiar.
Last week Boris Johnson set out plans to ensure that almost 15 million people – everyone over the age of 70 – should get their jab by February 15.
Every care home should deliver jabs to all residents and workers by the end of this month, the plans state.
On Monday ministers said this plan was on track, with 200,000 jabs now being administered daily.
But several of the details are new.
The document’s timeline suggests that 32 million people – 60 per cent of the adult population of the UK – should have received their first jab by spring.
And it describes how more than 2,700 venues – including 50 mass vaccination centres – will be tasked to deliver those jabs.
Seven such centres, including one at Epsom racecourse, began work this week dispensing thousands of jabs. Everyone in the country should be within 10 miles of their nearest vaccination centre, under the plans. More than 2,000 of these sites will be based at GP surgeries, with more than 200 hospital sites and schemes run from pharmacies.
Current vaccine coverage in England
But some of the plans for the future are more unusual. Theatres – which have had little use for the last year – will be “repurposed” under the programme, along with hotels, and sports stadiums.
Around 80,000 NHS staff, medical students and retired health workers have been trained to deliver the programme. While pharmacists, midwives and physiotherapists are among those given the training, so too are those in rather different professions, with airline cabin crew being recruited and trained up, under the plans.
Meanwhile, the Government says more than 200,000 volunteers have signed up to help administer the programme, working as stewards, first aiders and administrative support.
The new plan focuses on four areas:
The UK has ordered 367 million doses of Covid vaccines, from seven different manufactures.
Even though most types of jabs require two doses, this would amount to enough for the population of Britain, thrice over.
However, four are still in trials.
Vaccines secured by the government and current state of development
Since December, vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna, have all been given the green light. Pfizer was the first to be authorised, and all of the jabs given last year were those made by Pfizer/BioNTech.
But the programme has sped up rapidly in the last week, since the vaccines by AstraZeneca were rolled out. Unlike the Pfizer jabs, these can be stored at regular fridge temperatures, making them much easier to store and transport.
On Monday, Sir Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, said 2.5 million vaccines have now been administered – with almost as many doled out in the last week as had been in the previous month. So far, 40 per cent of over 80s and almost a quarter of care home residents have had their jabs.
The NHS has pledged to deliver the vaccines as quickly as it receives them, with four million Pfizer jabs and around 3.5 million doses of AstraZeneca in its pipeline.
By February 15, 15 million people – including everyone over the age of 70 – should have been offered their first vaccine, under the Government’s plans.
The priority groups are made up of care home residents and workers, people aged 80 and over, health and social care workers, those in their 70s and younger people who are deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable”.
The programme will then shift to those in the remaining priority groups – those in their 50s and 60s as well as younger people with particular health conditions.
How will I be contacted and what happens next?
This is described as the first phase of the programme, which ministers say should be completed in the spring. The Government and its advisors have yet to decide who should be prioritised once all over 50s have been offered the jabs.
On Monday officials said the second phase will look at “the best tactics for achieving protection of the whole UK population”. Ministers have already said there is a good case for putting teachers and police high on this list, and the plan confirmed that those “at high risk of catching Covid-19” and those “delivering key public services” may be given a higher place in the queue.
There are currently almost 1,000 vaccination sites across the country. The vast majority, almost 800, are GP-led services and they are expected to deliver most of the vaccinations.
More than 200 hospital sites are also open, with plans to administer jabs to two million healthcare workers in weeks, as well as patients.
In the coming weeks, more than 2,700 centres will be opened. This week 600,000 people over the age of 80 are being invited to go to one of seven mass centres with invites sent to those who are within a 45-minute drive.
However, health officials stress that those who prefer to wait for an invitation from a site closer to home can do so.
More than 200,000 members of the public, and businesses have come forward to ask to help administer the programme, with supermarket chain Morrisons offering its car parks and beer company Brewdog offering its premises.
The new plan says all offers are being “thoroughly considered” but says that at the moment, as supplies come through, lack of locations is not the “rate limiting factor”.
Similarly, while welcoming all the volunteers coming forward, the document cautiously suggests that the programme “is a marathon not a sprint”.
“Not everyone who has volunteered will be deployed immediately, but we are working hard to ensure that people are prepared and informed, so that they can be mobilised as and when required,” says the report, which says calls for volunteers have been “oversubscribed” in some areas.
Mass vaccination Q&A