Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the process of vaccination will start next week (Picture: Reuters / REX)
The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be given to Brits on Tuesday, an NHS boss has said.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the immunisation process will be ‘a marathon, it’s not a sprint’.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’re looking forward to the race starting on Tuesday.’
It comes as the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech jabs arrived in the UK for distribution yesterday.
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The country has ordered 40 million doses of the drug enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two doses, given 21 days apart.
The drug, manufactured in Belgium, was transported via the Channel Tunnel. It has to be stored at -70C.
Mr Hopson added hospitals are currently working out how many care home residents, care home staff and over-80s they can get to.
‘Each one of those groups has a different set of characteristics in terms of the logistical difficulty of doing the vaccination,’ he said.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine this week (Picture: Reuters)
‘Think of a large pizza box, is the way that we’re describing it, that’s got to be stored in a fridge at minus 70C.
‘To be frank, the only way you can really do that at the moment is to store them inside NHS hospital hubs.
‘You can only move them four times, and you have to ensure that the two doses are administered three weeks apart, so it’s quite complex.
‘So, what we’re going to be doing is, hospitals are at the moment talking to care home providers to say how can we get your staff to come into those hospital hubs so we can inject them.’
Chief of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens said people over 80 and care home staff will be at the top of the priority list for a vaccine.
But the injections will initially only be offered in hospitals due to the storage and transportation limitation.
Tory frontbencher Lord Bethell told peers ‘an enormous army’ of people had been mobilised to administer doses of the vaccine, including NHS staff, pharmacists and retired healthcare workers.
Lorry loads of the jab are also on their way to the devolved nations ready for next week’s rollout.
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