Nurse prepares to administer Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Western General Hospital, in Edinburgh 081220 CREDIT PA
Coronavirus

COVID: The Military's Role In UK's Mass Vaccination Programme

Armed Forces personnel are helping the NHS to roll out a COVID-19 mass vaccination programme.

Nurse prepares to administer Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Western General Hospital, in Edinburgh 081220 CREDIT PA

The British military is engaged in a battle against the coronavirus, confirmed as the biggest ever homeland military operation in peacetime.

Armed Forces personnel are rolling out a COVID-19 mass vaccination programme, alongside the NHS.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he expects members of the military will be "doing injections" by February.

There are currently 21 Vaccination Quick Reaction Force teams on standby to deploy across England at short notice.

Each team is made up of a total of six military healthcare experts – one doctor, two registered health professionals and three Combat Medical Technicians.

Plans are in place to grow it to 250 or more teams across the country, if needed.

There are 90 personnel in Wales supporting the operation of vaccine centres – 14 of whom are already supporting the administering of injections.

Last week, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said 10 military planners have been deployed to help the Vaccine Task Force, while more than 150 personnel are deployed across the UK to support with the logistics of the deployment programme.

A 1,500-strong reserve force of qualified troops is also on standby, should the NHS require assistance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Armed Forces would be using "battle preparation techniques" to keep up the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said the MOD currently has about 144 Armed Forces personnel providing direct assistance to the vaccine rollout and a further 133 personnel remain at readiness to support, if required.

WATCH: Logistics of COVID vaccination programme 'unparalleled in scaled and complexity'.

The British Army officer responsible for coordinating the military's support to the coronavirus vaccination programme said the logistical task has been "unparalleled in its scale and complexity".

Brigadier Phil Prosser, Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme, added his team is "embedded" with the NHS.

He said his "day job" is to deliver combat supplies to UK forces in time of war, adding: "My team are used to complexity and building supply chains at speed in the most arduous and challenging conditions."

As part of the Ministry of Defence’s Winter Preparedness Package, about 12,000 personnel are being held at graduated readiness.

Cover image: PA.