Home / Science / Health /  UK Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine rollout: Britain starts Covid vaccination programme

The United Kingdom has become the first country in the world to administer the new Covid-19 vaccine developed jointly by the American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. Hundreds of thousands of vials of the vaccine, manufactured at plants in Europe, were shipped through the Channel Tunnel over the weekend in special containers that keep the jabs at ultra-low temperatures. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent days in intensive care with Covid-19 earlier this year, called it a "huge step forward in the UK's fight against coronavirus".

UK Covid-19 vaccination: Who will be given priority?

Priority for the coronavirus vaccine will initially be given to front-line staff on the National Health Service (NHS) and the over 80s before being rolled out to other segments of the public.

The immunization programme will be rolled out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is being closely monitored by governments and public health officials around the world.

Also read: Why farm politics doesn't win elections in India

UK Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has to be administered twice

Those who are vaccinated will be issued with a "vaccination passport" containing details such as date of vaccination and date of the first inoculation to remind people when to receive the second jab. The vaccine has to be administered twice.

While the vaccine has been widely welcomed and is seen as a giant relief after months of death and uncertainty caused due to the pandemic. However, there is scepticism about how successful it will be, particularly as it needs to be stored and transported at the ultra-low temperatures.

Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine storage

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge. For that reason, the health ministry said the vaccine would first be administered in 50 hospitals. It said it would take a few hours to defrost each vaccine and prepare it for use. Rather than run clinics in individual surgeries, groups of local doctors will operate more than 1,000 vaccination centres across the country, the government said.

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