FIFTY NHS hospitals ready to roll out Pfizer Covid vaccine next week
FIFTY NHS hospitals are standing by to roll out the Pfizer Covid vaccine next week – as Britain becomes the first country to get the jab.
Matt Hancock tweeted "help is on the way" as it was confirmed this morning the jab is now approved for use in the UK.
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It is thought seven hospital hubs in the North West are preparing to dish out the vaccine, one being Liverpool Royal Hospital.
In a letter to staff seen by Sky News, bosses said: "The Trust has been selected as one of seven Covid-19 vaccine hubs in the region, which means that we will be managing the vaccination programme for all LUHFT colleagues, along with neighbouring Trusts.
"Authorisation of the vaccine is expected imminently, so we are putting preparations in place in order to be able to start roll out of the vaccine as soon as it arrives."
Northern regions of England have been the hardest hit by the virus, with high R rates forcing huge areas into severe restrictions for months.
Mr Hancock said this morning the first wave of jabs will "start with the elderly and people in care homes and their carers".
He said: "The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19.
"The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.
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"The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply."
The jab – which is 95 per cent effective and developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech – is safe for use, health regulators say.
The drug has been backed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla described the MHRA announcement as an “historic moment”.
He said: “Today’s Emergency Use Authorization in the U.K. marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19."
NHS staff will be first in the queue for the jab under plans being finalised by health bosses, this newspaper reported last week.
Frontline workers are now expected to be immunised ahead of care home residents and other vulnerable older Brits. High-risk under-65s will also move up the pecking order.
Ministers are also primed to launch a nationwide campaign across TV and radio highlighting the benefits of vaccination as early as next week.
The UK has beaten the US and EU into getting the life-saving vaccine first.
Just days ago, it was announced that the drug was set to get the green light for use – and medics were told to prepare for approval in early December.
However, the Pfizer jab has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 before immunisation — a logistical nightmare for the NHS.
It means it is unlikely to be used to treat care home residents — currently top of the provisional priority list — as doctors cannot vaccinate at the necessary scale.
Instead, health bosses want to roll it out from 53 hospital hubs to immunise frontline NHS staff first.
A health source said: “Health workers are a captive audience so it will be much quicker to get jabs in arms right from day one.”
They are gambling the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca jab, which can be stored in a normal fridge, will be approved just days later.
Officials expect it will form the backbone of mass community immunisation, with 19million doses available by the end of the year.
NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens has said the service is “ten out of ten” ready to roll out the “biggest vaccination campaign in our history”.
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