Coronavirus

COVID: Jab Approved In UK, With Military To Assist Vaccination Rollout

Military personnel are advising the Government’s Vaccination Task Force and supporting the rollout of the jabs.

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for vaccination to start next week with the assistance of the military.

The jab has been shown to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted "it's fantastic”, adding: "It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again."

Forty million doses of the vaccine have been ordered by the UK, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two doses given 21 days apart.

About 10 million doses are expected to be available in the UK over the coming weeks for priority groups, which include healthcare workers, care home residents and the over-80s, with 800,000 of those doses expected to arrive next week

A full list of who will receive the first vaccines will be set out on Thursday.

Twenty-five military personnel have already been drafted in to advise the Government’s Vaccination Task Force and are helping to formulate the UK’s mass vaccination programme.

Personnel are also likely to be involved in setting up inoculation sites around the country.

On Monday, military personnel arrived in Bristol to begin converting Ashton Gate Stadium into a mass COVID vaccination site.

The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine paves the way for mass vaccination to start (Picture: PA).

Other mass vaccination clinics have been suggested, including the Copper Box stadium in London’s Olympic Park.

NHS Nightingale hospitals have been sounded out as potential mass vaccination clinics, and hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacists have also been put on standby.

Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood MP said on Tuesday that "many people in uniform" will be seen "around the country in different places” as they help the vaccination effort, which he previously described as the "biggest logistical challenge probably since D-Day".

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at an ultra-low temperature until a few days before being delivered to a patient.

It has been suggested that the vaccine vials will be stored in hospitals and wholesalers which have appropriate freezers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast this morning that it is a "challenging rollout", adding "the NHS in all parts of the UK stands ready to make that happen".

He added 50 hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the vaccine approval is "excellent news and a step towards normality".

However, he warned: "It will take until spring until the vulnerable population who wish to are fully vaccinated. We can’t lower our guard yet."

Cover image: Soldier during a testing pilot in Liverpool (Picture: MOD).