With the exciting news that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the UK, we thought it would be useful to answer some of your questions and provide a guide to the new vaccine.
1. Coronavirus vaccine research:
The UK government has approved the use of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.
Is it safe?
Dr. June Raine from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has commented that no corners were cut and that the vaccine “meets rigorous high standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality”, and that the “public can be confident” that the MHRA will be watching closely to ensure that during the vaccine rollout there is a good laboratory, clinical, and manufacturing practice.
Did Brexit impact the speed of the authorisation of the vaccine roll-out?
Dr. June Raine has also stated that the vaccine was authorised using provisions under European law which will continue to exist for the UK until 1st January 2021. The speed of which it progressed and was developed has been dependent on the availability of data, rigorous assessment and independent advice received.
2. How the vaccination works:
What are the side effects?
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, a British clinical pharmacologist and geneticist and NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool since 2007, has stated that the safety of the vaccine is similar to other vaccines. Even though this is a new vaccine, it has been rigorously tested with a study of 40,000 volunteers with very few complications.
What are the risks?
So far just over 1 in 1,000 people on average in the UK have died due to Coronavirus complications. The risk is even lower if you are young healthy, white or a woman. The scientists charged with monitoring the study haven’t reported any serious safety concerns.
3. The UK’s immunisation programme
Who will get the vaccine first?
The vaccination programme has been planned out in phases with the first phase aimed at immunising those in a risk category, which means those who are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. This includes:
- Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over, frontline health and social care workers
- 75 years and older
- 70 years and older and clinically extremely vulnerable
- All those 65 and older
- All aged 16-64 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious
- Disease or mortality
- All those 60 years and over
- All those 55 years and older
- All those 50 years and older
Will, which Tier you live in make a difference to when you get the vaccine?
No, the government has stated that qualifying for the vaccination will be based on the above criteria.
Will there be enough vaccine?
The government have assured that 800,000 doses will be available next week but considerably more will be available in the New Year.
During our hot topic series our Head of Clinical Performance, Lorraine Gray, will be looking into a new subject each month, providing commentary and advice on pressing issues for clinicians. If you have any topics you would like to know more about, please get in touch.
A former RGN and Matron, Lorraine has over 10 years in senior executive roles in IUC and NHS 111 services and today leverages her operational and clinical experience offer balanced delivery solutions and insights for our clinicians.
If you have any further questions about the Coronavirus vaccine, PPE, or how you can source locum or clinician work in primary or acute care – or even via remote telemedicine working shifts – we would be happy to talk to you about it!