GPs prepare huge COVID-19 vaccine drive as first patients receive Oxford jab

GP-led sites across the UK will deliver hundreds of thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week as rollout of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine began.

Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine (Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine (Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

82-year-old Brian Pinker became the first patient to receive the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine at 7.30am on Monday 4 January at Oxford's Churchill Hospital.

The Oxford vaccine is the second COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the UK - and the country has today become the first in the world to deliver it to patients outside of a clinical trial.

Around 1,000 vaccination sites are expected to be operational in England by the end of the week beginning 4 January.

GP vaccination drive

NHS England has confirmed that 'more than 700 sites' - predominantly local, GP-led vaccination centres - have begun delivering doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A further 180 GP sites and 100 more hospital hubs are expected to join the vaccination drive this week.

The DHSC has confirmed that 500,000 doses of the Oxford vaccine are available to be administered this week - and the BBC has reported that a similar number of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are also ready for rollout this week.

This suggests that the NHS could come close to doubling the 1m doses of vaccine administered by the end of 2020 by the end of the first full week of 2021.

NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: 'The NHS’ biggest vaccination programme in history is off to a strong start, thanks to the tremendous efforts of NHS staff who have already delivered more than 1m jabs.

COVID-19 vaccine

'Throughout the pandemic their response has been phenomenal from introducing world-leading treatments for coronavirus which have saved patients’ lives as well as delivering the very first COVID-19 vaccines outside of a trial in a landmark moment in history, and now rolling out the new Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, chalking up another world first that will protect thousands more over the coming weeks.'

The Oxford vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer jab, because it does not require storage at -70oC - meaning it will be significantly easier to deliver in care homes.

GPs will be paid an additional £10 per vaccination administered to paitents in care homes by the end of January.

The government has said that more than one in five of England's 2.9m patients aged over 80 have now received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK's four CMOs backed a change in policy in recent days to focus on administering a first dose of vaccine to as many patients as possible, with second doses for patients vaccinated in the first wave postponed.

The CMOs have set out the clinical case for the change, and acknowledged that short notice of the decision was 'operationally very difficult' for GP practices and others delivering vaccines.

The first Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccinations are being delivered at six hospital sites early this week for surveillance purposes, with the bulk of doses to go to GP-led services later this week.

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