The largest immunization program in the nation’s history aims to defuse a pandemic situation
The United Kingdom has announced plans to vaccinate “tens of millions of people in the spring” as part of the largest immunization program in British history.
The government published details of its COVID-19 vaccination plan this week, announcing that the UK will increase capacity to 2 million injections per week during this month.
The UK aims to vaccinate around 15 million people by February 15, including those over 70 years of age and over, the National Health Service and care workers, and those who are clinically vulnerable.
No one has to travel more than 16 kilometers to the vaccine site, the government promises, and a mobile team of health workers will be dispatched to reach those living in remote areas.
Seven vaccination centers are opening in the UK this week, and the government intends to open an additional 50 by the end of the month, along with 1,200 local vaccine sites that will support more than 200 active hospital sites.
“Our UK COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan maps our route back to normalcy, but that doesn’t mean we can be complacent and it is imperative that everyone adheres to the restrictions in the coming weeks,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “The next few months will provide a significant opportunity to turn the tide of the battle against COVID-19.”
The three COVID-19 inoculations permitted for use in the UK – which include the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford vaccines – require two doses, and as of Sunday 1.96 million first doses and 375,000 second doses have been administered across the UK, according to the NHS.
Hancock told Sky News that supply was a major limiting factor in increasing vaccine coverage, which currently runs at a rate of about 200,000 treatments per day.
The UK is the first European country to approve the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, and has been a pioneer in the region in terms of vaccine coverage. By comparison, Germany’s second best European player has delivered a total of 553,000 shots on Sunday.
The UK’s vaccination plan comes during a national lockdown, after a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus contributed to a severe spike in infections. Hospital capacity was more than 40 percent above its peak during the first wave last March, and on Friday Britain recorded the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, when 1,325 deaths from COVID-19 were confirmed.
“We have faced some critical moments during our battle against the Coronavirus. But right now, the country is probably facing the most serious. A new, more contagious variant of this disease is spreading rapidly across the country and has tragic consequences,” the British chief. Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a statement. “The advice now is unambiguous: to push numbers, we have to stay home except for work, exercise and other essential activities.”