THE UK rolled out the new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to General Practice led services on Thursday(7) to protect care home residents and other vulnerable people against Covid-19.
Trials of the vaccine were conducted at selected hospitals before being sent out to hundreds of community-based local vaccination services.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to move.
Apart from the700 sites which are already opened, hundreds of new sites will open at hospitals and in the community this week in the new phase of the vaccination programme, an official statement said.
Seven vaccination centres will be among many more sites coming online next week, along with more hospitals, GP led services and a number of pilot pharmacy vaccine services.
Care home residents and staff were set as the highest priority group by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care, said: “GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to be able to launch almost 200 more sites this week. Combined with the arrival of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, we will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster.”
The NHS is offering GP services an extra £10 for every care homes resident vaccinated in January in a drive to get a majority vaccinated before the end of the month.
More than one million people have already been vaccinated by the NHS in less than one month since Maggie Keenan received the Pfizer vaccine in December.
The NHS was the first to deliver the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, jabbing Brian Pinker, 82, at Oxford University Hospital on Monday(4).
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be transported easily and I’m delighted care home residents will begin receiving their first Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs this week. More than 1.3 million people have already been vaccinated in the UK, including 23 per cent – or over 650,000 – of the over-80s in England
“We are aiming to offer vaccinations to the majority of care home residents by the end of January and all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February. This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save tens of thousands of lives. As our vaccination programme ramps up, I urge everybody to continue following the latest restrictions to keep cases low and protect loved ones.”
According to the statement, up to 100 hospital more sites and another 180 GP-led services are due to come online across the country this week.