Vaccination to start Tuesday as NHS chief explains the process

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the vaccines will have reached hospital centers for vaccinations to begin on Tuesday.

He told BBC Breakfast, “That’s when we expect the first batches to be administered.”

Mr. Hopson said hospitals are figuring out how many nursing home residents, care home workers, and over-80s they can reach.

“Each of these groups has a different set of characteristics in terms of the logistical difficulty of the vaccination,” he said, noting that the vaccine must be shipped at minus 70C.

“Think of a large pizza box, that’s how we describe it, it has to be kept in the fridge at minus 70C.

“To be fair, the only way you can really do that right now is to store them in NHS hospital hubs.

“You can only move them four times and you have to make sure that the two doses are given three weeks apart, so it’s quite complex.

“So what we’re going to do is that hospitals are currently talking to healthcare providers to say how we can get your staff to those hospital centers so we can inject them.”

Mr. Hopson said: “We determine in hospitals how many people over 80 we have who are currently treated in hospital or people who come for outpatient appointments.

“The bit about the nursing home residents is more complicated because the other thing I didn’t tell you is that these come, the pizza boxes, in 975 batches.

“And of course we do not have any nursing homes where 975 residents live. You tend to have them in your 50s, 30s, 60s.

“So what you should do is break those 975 pizza boxes into smaller batches, and then the good news is that when we can do that, which we think we can do very quickly, we can then ask GPs for the vaccine to be administered to residents of nursing homes.

“So what hospitals are doing is today, yesterday, the day before yesterday, tomorrow, and are going to figure out exactly how many of that nursing home staff, nursing home residents and over-80s they can administer. They’re going to tell NHS England and Improvement what those numbers are,” and then the vaccines will be assigned depending on how many people can get them. “

Mr Hopson said he has no target for the number of vaccines to be delivered on Tuesday, but said “clearly as many as possible,” adding that most of the program would take place in the first three months of 2021.

“We mobilized at real speed, this is really exciting, we know we have to do this right. It’s something the NHS is doing really well, ”he said, adding,“ It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. We look forward to the race that starts on Tuesday. “