This week it was announced that the UK is the first place in the world to approve a vaccination against COVID-19. This is incredibly positive news in the fight against the virus and something that has been widely welcomed. But what does this approval mean and when are we likely to see vaccinations begin here in Knowsley?
What has happened this week?
The vaccine developed by Pfizer BioNtech received formal approval for use in the UK.
This is just one of a number of vaccines currently under development.
What happens next?
Stocks of the Pfizer vaccine, which have been pre-ordered by the Government, are being shipped to the UK. Once here they will be inspected by Public Health England and then distributed across the country.
Work continues at pace on the development of other vaccines, which we hope will be approved imminently.
When and where will the approved vaccine be available?
It is the intention that this vaccine will be available across UK but as yet we do not know when local supplies may be available.
This particular vaccine needs to be stored at incredibly low temperatures (-70) which means that specialist storage is needed. There are also issues with moving the vaccine and therefore we are uncertain as to how or if it will be possible to take this out into the community. It may be more likely that it is stored and administered only in hospital settings.
Is there enough vaccine for everyone?
The vaccine approved this week is just one of a number that are currently being developed. This is the first to be approved but it is hoped that others will follow imminently and that supplies in total will be available for the wider population in the coming months.
Who will be vaccinated first?
The Government is still finalising its priority listing but we expect that the most vulnerable and the health and social care staff who support them will be contacted first.
How will I find out when it is my turn to get the vaccination?
You will be contacted directly by the NHS.
Do I have to get vaccinated?
No – vaccination is not compulsory for the general population but it is recommended to provide you with protection against infection from COVID-19.
Are their plans for rolling out the vaccination in Knowsley?
Yes. The Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group working with the NHS Primary Care Networks and Knowsley Council have been working for some time on roll out plans for the vaccination. This includes identifying sites where people will be able to go to get vaccinated and also a roll out that will consider care home residents and the housebound.
Once a vaccine is made available locally, services are ready to start the roll out ASAP.
If I am not in a priority group when I am likely to receive the vaccine?
At this point it is not possible to confirm timings for this. It will depend on when other vaccines are approved and made available and also how quickly the programme is progressing with the more vulnerable people in the community.
Where can I find out more?
We will provide regular updated on Knowsley News but you can also visit the NHS website.