The GP–led services will make it easier to protect care home residents and other vulnerable people against Covid-19.
The vaccine had previously been trialled at selected hospitals for surveillance purposes before being sent out to community-based local vaccination services.
Because the vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to move than the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved, it is easier to use in care homes and to vaccinate the housebound.
In this next phase of the vaccination programme, hundreds of new sites are opening at hospitals and in the community this week.
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.
GP and NHS medical director for primary care, Dr Nikki Kanani, said, “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.
“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.”
The start of this next phase will speed up the process of vaccinating care home residents, who have been set as the highest priority group by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
More than one million people have already been vaccinated by the NHS in less than one month since the first vaccination was administered in December.
Health secretary, Matt Hancock, said, “Every part of the government and the NHS are working around the clock to rapidly scale up our Covid-19 vaccination programme 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 percent – or over 650,000 – of the over-80s in England.
“We are aiming to offer vaccinations to the majority of care home residents by the end of January and all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February. This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save tens of thousands of 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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