This FAQ section contains our questions related to COVID-19 Vaccine – Operational plans.
To navigate to a different section of the FAQs, or go back to the main page, click on any of the links below:
- Back to main COVID-19 Vaccination webpage
- FAQ section on Vaccine safety and components
- FAQ section on Vaccine efficacy/effectiveness
- FAQ section on Practical queries around getting the vaccine
- FAQ section on Vaccine coverage and eligibility
Capacity and supply
Vaccinations in England started on 8 December. In line with JCVI recommendations, the NHS has focused on rolling out vaccines to people aged 70 and over, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, care home residents and staff, and frontline health and social care workers.
Figures on the number of people vaccinated are published weekly and can be found at coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/vaccinations
The Government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, totalling over 357 million doses. This includes:
• 40m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
• 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
• 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has been approved by the MHRA but is not expected to be delivered to the NHS until Spring.
• 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, which has reported positive results from clinical trials but has not yet been approved by the MHRA.
It will likely take until at least the end of Spring until all high-risk groups have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine and the NHS expects to have enough stocks to vaccinate all those in the priority groups who want the vaccine at a minimum.
The vast majority of people in the priority groups 1-4 groups have already either had their first dose or are booked in to be vaccinated shortly. The NHS is now also vaccinating those in priority groups 5-6 – see the priority group list here.
The NHS is confident that the supplies and booking slots are available to accommodate the expected number of people who may now come forward.
Vaccination services are under strict instructions to keep the number of wasted doses to an absolute minimum. Any spare vaccines due to missed or unfilled appointments should be used wherever possible.
This is primarily done through each service operating a reserve list of eligible people – including health and social care workers, but also members of the public in the JCVI priority groups currently being vaccinated – who can be called at short notice to receive a dose where otherwise it might be wasted.
The NHS has already vaccinated millions of people in the highest priority groups with their first dose and has planned extensively to ensure that we can continue to ramp up the programme based on the number of doses that are available to us, and plans for second dose vaccines are now underway.
Co-ordination of rollout
All services are updating data constantly with patients who have been vaccinated. Information is uploaded onto systems which are then linked to the patients’ records
Boroughs are looking to open larger vaccination centres – one per borough – by the beginning of March. These will be at local sports stadiums, civic halls or religious centres. Services are already running at extended hours, seven days a week.
Clinical and operational teams look at a multitude of factors to open up non-clinical vaccination sites, including safety, infection control issues, staffing, capacity, social distancing, etc, and have to comply with NHSE’s very strict requirements.
We are offering the vaccines at some local pharmacies and more are coming on-line every week.
It is very rarely that this happens and often due to people trying to be vaccinated without an appointment or patients arriving too early for their appointments. This is why we require patients to make an appointment and only arrive 5 min before appointments.
This group are a high priority and the roll out to care homes has now started and is being undertaken by GPs and local primary care networks (PCNs).
Yes, this has been approved and the NHS has been working through the delivery mechanism to ensure we can safely transport the vaccine and deliver it in care homes. The roll out to care homes has now started. As of 29/01/21 we have completed 100% of older people’s care homes in SEL.
This will vary depending on who they are vaccinating and where. The most important thing here is that the NHS aims to vaccinate as many people as safely and quickly as possible.
However, we have made an excellent start to the programme, delivering over 181,000 in south east London since the 8 December (as of 29/01/2021), and as more vaccines become available, more vaccination centres will open which will allow us to go even further and faster over the coming weeks and months.
The NHS will offer vaccinations using three different models. In the first instance, our local NHS trusts are acting as hospital hubs, 9 in south east London (SEL) where the vaccine can be stored safely and where many in the top priority groups – including the over 80s, care home workers and NHS staff – have been able to get vaccinated on site.
To make it as easy as possible for those who are eligible to access a vaccination safely in a more local setting, Local Vaccination Services have been set up. These primary care-led services include GP practices who are part of a Primary Care Network (25 in SEL), community pharmacies (currently 7 in SEL but more opening soon) as well as roving teams who have started delivering the vaccine in some care homes and to housebound patients.
When the supply of doses allows, the NHS will also establish vaccination centres, one has been opened at the Excel Centre but three more are expected to open at the beginning of March in south east London, where larger numbers of people will be able to go and get vaccinated. These could be in local venues such as sports stadiums, civic halls, religious centres and concert venues that offer the physical space to deal with large numbers of people while maintaining social distancing. If you receive an invitation to a large centre but are unable to travel to it you have the option to decline the invitation and wait to be contacted by a local vaccination site.
The JCVI have set criteria, which they will continue to review on an ongoing basis, for who should get the vaccine and when. GPs will be able to call in or go out to patients based on this, using your patient records. A national invitation and recall system, drawn from GP patient records, may also be used.
Although most are not currently offering a 365-day service, the NHS is working hard to ensure the vaccine gets to those who need it, including out of normal hours or on weekends and bank holidays.
Equality of access
All patients in care facilities, over the age of 70 or registered as clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered the vaccine before mid-February. Those who require consent support will be contacted via their carer or family members.
We understand that some communities have specific concerns and may be more hesitant in taking the vaccine than others. The NHS is working collaboratively with partners to ensure vaccine messages reach as diverse an audience as possible and are tailored to meet their needs.
This includes engagement with community and faith-led groups, charities and other voluntary organisations.
Boroughs have vaccinated majority of over 70s and finishing the outstanding by mid-February. All older peoples care homes have now been vaccinated.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to transport and therefore can be used to vaccinate people in care homes or those who are housebound. However, all vaccines will present different logistical requirements and the NHS has been planning for all eventualities.
You can be assured that the vaccine you will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective.
The vaccines that the NHS uses, and in what circumstances, will be decided by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Both vaccines are classed as being very effective.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca is easier to store and transport, meaning we can issue them from more places, and we expect to have more doses available as they are manufactured in the UK. Therefore, we would expect that most people are likely to receive this vaccine over the coming weeks and months.