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Pfizer vaccine approved: UK starts mass immunisation next week

Care homes, clinically vulnerable people and NHS staff will start receiving the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine next week.

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Only last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said the UK was going to be the first nation to be vaccinated against coronavirus and the first to start vaccinating. He is now ‘thrilled’ to announce a further update, making it a historic moment: the UK will start mass immunisation next week, becoming the first western country to approve a covid vaccine.

UK to start Pfizer vaccine rollout

The UK has officially approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and will start vaccinating next week. The vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) before any other country.
In the next days, the UK will receive the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, after having bought 40 million. The first doses will be given to the people most at risk, about 800,000 doses are estimated to be delivered early next week.

The rollout: to whom and how?

According to the Health Secretary, the rollout of the vaccine would be challenging as it must be kept at -70C. About 50 hospitals are said to be ready to receive the first doses and specialist vaccination centres are being built. Matt Hancock also confirmed some GPs and pharmacists will also be giving the vaccine if they manage to have cold storage facilities. Older people and those in care homes will be the first in line while NHS staff will also be high on the priority list along with clinically vulnerable people.

A spokesman from the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed: “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the MHRA to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness… The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will shortly also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable. The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

Is ‘normality’ in sight?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced: “The goal will be to vaccinate through the NHS right across the UK as rapidly as the company can manufacture. It will help save lives. Once we’ve protected the most vulnerable it will help us all get back to normal and back to some of the things that we love. So many families have suffered, including my own. I’m just so, so pleased … 2020 has been just awful and 2021 is going to be better. Help is on its way. Help is on its way with this vaccine – and we can now say that with certainty rather than with all the caveats that we normally have to put around that.”

According to Matt Hancock, the UK will return to normality starting from Easter next year and will have no restrictions by summer 2021.

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