A second covid vaccine has been authorised for use and priority is to be giving the first dose to as many people in at-risk groups as possible.
The government says it has today (December 30) accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use.
It follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA. The first batch of the vaccine was released last night.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive this vaccine.
The NHS already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of patients with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its roll out will continue. Now the NHS will begin putting preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine from next month.
The JCVI has advised the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.
From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups.
The JCVI’s independent advice is that this approach will maximise the benefits of both vaccines. It will ensure that more at-risk people are able to get protection from a vaccine in the coming weeks and months, reducing deaths and starting to ease pressure on the NHS.