The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to transport and to store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — which was approved for use in the UK last month and has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius — making it easier to deliver outside of hospital settings.
Tens of thousands of current and former NHS workers are being trained as vaccinators to support the what the health service has described as “the biggest immunization programme in its history.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is a very difficult situation in terms of the growth of the virus. But then we also have this very good news this morning, it’s a real pivotal moment.”
The rollout comes after a shift in the UK’s immunization strategy. The government has said it will now prioritize giving the first in a series of two vaccine doses to as many people as possible, before administering a second dose up to 12 weeks later.
This will apply to both the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is already being administered.