Now that the UK has authorized the first Covid vaccine, who will get it first?
The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) says its priority is to prevent Covid-related deaths and protect health and social care personnel and systems.
Nursing home residents and their caregivers are first on the JCVI list because their risk of exposure to the virus is higher and because the risk of death is closely correlated with advancing age. They are followed as a priority by any other person over the age of 80 and front-line health and social care workers.
Still, for pragmatic reasons, NHS staff are likely to be the first group to take the hit from Pfizer / BioNTech. This is because the vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperatures, which can be more easily achieved using hospital facilities.
Are there enough doses to reach all priority groups?
Together, nursing home residents, their caregivers and those over 80 years old number nearly 6 million people, and frontline NHS staff 736,685 more. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said that he expects 10 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine to be available this year, so if this is the only licensed vaccine, everyone else would have to wait until there are more doses. available next year.
Where will I go for the vaccine?
Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered to three types of locations: trusted NHS “vaccine centers” in hospitals; mass vaccination centers, which are being installed in places like football stadiums, conference buildings and racetracks; up to 5,000 people a day are expected to be vaccinated; and in GP and pharmacy consultations. GPs can also visit nursing home residents and homebound patients without travel.
How far apart will the two doses be administered and will I be protected after the first?
While there is some evidence to indicate high levels of short-term protection with a single dose of vaccine, a two-dose schedule is what has been approved by the MHRA.
The second dose should be given at least 21 days after the first, and both will be injected into the deltoid muscle, the thick triangular muscle that we use to lift each arm.
For the Pfizer vaccine, its efficacy rate was calculated seven days after the second injection. People will likely have some protection before this, but this is how long it will take for full protection to kick in. We will learn more about the scope of protection and how long it lasts as data from ongoing clinical trials arrives.
Can I pay to get the vaccine privately?
Unlikely. England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said he believes Covid-19 vaccines should be administered according to clinical priority rather than allowing people to skip the queue if they can afford them.
Will I be able to choose which vaccine I have?
It is also unlikely, at least in the short to medium term. Assuming more than one vaccine is approved, the priority will be to distribute any available doses to people who need them as quickly as possible.
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