The government plans to have administered a first Covid-19 vaccination dose to everyone in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, before expanding the programme so that all adults can be inoculated by the autumn.
This is according to its Covid-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan, which was published on Monday and sets out how the government plans to deliver hundreds of thousands of vaccines per day via small GP-led sites through to large vaccination centres in football stadiums.
It intends to vaccinate two million people per week by the end of January by establishing 206 hospital hubs, 1,200 local vaccination service sites at pharmacies and primary care centres, and 50 vaccination centres.
It says that by the end of January, 100% of the population will live within 10 miles of a vaccination service, which may be a mobile unit in some rural areas.
The document states: “The scale of this challenge is enormous, equivalent to establishing a national supermarket business in less than a month. All parts of the healthcare system will be mobilised so that we can vaccinate the highest risk individuals as rapidly as possible. The network will continue to expand and evolve as we progress the eight deployment in the months ahead.”
It acknowledges the role that occupational health can play in delivering the vaccine, as well as other professionals working outside the NHS, including independent nurses and St John Ambulance. It also notes that many other people outside of healthcare have the experience and skills to provide support, such as airline cabin crew.
More than 200,000 people have expressed an interest in volunteering to support the vaccine delivery programme.
It says: “New workforce legislation means a wider group of healthcare professionals are able to safely administer the Covid-19 vaccine and this will improve access to vaccines while minimising any impact on existing services.
“This includes drawing on the skills of those who have volunteered through the NHS Bring Back Scheme, considering the use of a wider range of professionals such as registered dentists, midwives, occupational therapists, paramedics, physiotherapists and radiographers, trainee doctors and nurses, as well as those currently working outside of the NHS such as St John’s Ambulance and independent nurses and occupational health service providers.
“This expanded workforce will work alongside GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals in primary, community and acute care experienced in delivering vaccination programmes.”