Tens of thousands of people in the UK will begin receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine starting next week, after the UK became the first western country to authorize use of a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The initial rollout of the vaccine – comprised of two doses taken three weeks apart – will prioritize care home residents and staff, people over 80 and health and care workers, DCHS said in a press release.
Up to 800,000 doses of the vaccine, which is enough to inoculate 400,000 people, are being made available next week.
The UK has already ordered 40 million doses, “enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, and the majority of doses are anticipated in the first half of next year,” the statement said.
Here’s how the distribution process will work:
- Pfizer will dispatch the vaccine from Belgium to the UK. This is followed by a post-delivery quality assurance process to ensure the vaccine’s quality and integrity has been maintained.
- Once all checks are complete the vaccine will be made available to order by authorized sites in the National Health Service (NHS).
- Orders will be packed and shipped as appropriate for the required storage temperature of each vaccine. Generally vaccines will be delivered on a next day delivery schedule except for more remote parts of the UK where delivery may take 48 hours.
- Delivering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is complex because it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures and moved carefully, so it will only be able to be delivered from “Hospital Hubs” at first. Defrosting the vaccine takes a few hours and then additional time is required to prepare the vaccine for administering.
- Stage one of the phased rollout of the vaccine will begin after it has been distributed.
CNN’s Max Foster reports on UK’s vaccine rollout plan: