Boris Johnson has warned people not to get their “hopes up too soon” about the speed the coronavirus vaccine can be rolled out, as he acknowledged there were “logistical challenges” to delivering it to care homes.
On Wednesday the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use, with jabs set to begin as soon as early next week.
The government has ordered 40m doses, enough to vaccinate 20m people with two doses, given 21 days apart.
Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister said it was “unquestionably good news”.
But he said it was “not the end of our national struggle” against Covid-19.
“I think at this stage it is very, very important that people do not get their hopes up too soon about the speed with which we will be able to roll out this vaccine,” he said.
Here is the vaccine priority list:
- Older adults resident in a care home and care home workers
- All those 80 years of age and over, plus frontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over
- All those 65 years of age and over
- All Individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions.
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years of age and over
- The rest of the population (priority to be determined)
Elderly people in care homes and care home workers are first on the priority list to receive the vaccine.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at minus -70C and is also stable at 2C to 8C for a short time.
And Johnson told MPs: “There are logistical challenges to be overcome to get vulnerable people the access to the vaccine that they need.”
The vaccine will be deployed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But the Welsh government said on Wednesday morning it would not be able to deliver it to care homes for “practical” reasons.
Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health secretary, said: “From our ongoing discussions with UK government and the manufacturer, and from understanding the conditions under which the vaccine trials have been conducted, we are aware of the challenges of storing, distributing and handling the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“In particular, its need for storage at very low temperatures.
“We have been exploring suitable options for initial deployment of this vaccine, in line with the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] advice, bearing in mind the constraints associated with its characteristics and the implications for delivery to all groups.”
Gething added: “In practical terms at this stage we cannot deliver this vaccine to care homes.”
“That means we’re going to have a smaller number of vaccination centres that we’ll need to bring people to.
“Some care home residents therefore won’t be within the first few weeks of delivery of that vaccine.”