The new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out in general practice-led services, NHS England has announced.
Hundreds of new sites are opening at hospitals and in the community this week in the new phase of the vaccination programme. This is on top of the 700 which were already open and vaccinating. 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.
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‘We are accelerating our vaccine delivery plan so we can protect those most at risk from this awful disease as quickly as possible. 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% – or over 650,000 – of the over-80s in England,’ said Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary.
‘We are aiming to offer vaccinations to all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February. This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save lives. As our vaccination programme ramps up, I urge everybody to continue following the latest restrictions to keep cases low and protect loved ones.’
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The vaccine has been trialled at selected hospitals for surveillance purposes before being sent out to hundreds of community-based local vaccination services. Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved, the Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to move, making it easier to use in care homes and to vaccinate the housebound.
‘The biggest vaccination programme in NHS history is already off to a strong start with around one million people already vaccinated against Coronavirus – this is a credit to our exceptional NHS staff,’ said Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care.
‘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.’