Covid vaccinations have started - but what happens next?

George Dyer receives his covid vaccine

The vaccination programme has begun all over the country. - Credit: PA

Norfolk and Waveney's coronavirus vaccine programme begins today.

Patients are being invited for their vaccine at hubs at two of the region's hospitals from this morning as part of the county's roll out vaccination programme.

Here is what you need to know.

What is the vaccine?

The vaccine that is being administered is known as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The UK had ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as people need to receive two doses.

There are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning that 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.

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The vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.

The vaccine boxes containing 975 doses will need to be split so that they can be taken to care homes - and approval is needed for that be allowed.

How are the vaccine being administered?

The vaccine will be delivered in three main ways across Norfolk and Waveney including at hospital hubs, in the community and through vaccine centres.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the James Paget University Hospital will vaccinate people at hubs at the hospital from today.

Hundreds of people are taking part in a coronavirus vaccine trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

Hundreds of people are taking part in a coronavirus vaccine trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is not one of the vaccination hubs, so people in the west of the county will need to travel to other hospitals.

But it has been chosen as a wave two site.That means it will start receiving vaccines shortly to vaccinate members of staff.

The NHS also plans to deliver the vaccine through primary care led services, such as GP surgeries, retail and community facilities or roving teams to reach those 

Larger sites, such as sports and conference venues are expected to be used as larger vaccine centres to see a high volume of people. Further details on how this will be delivered will be released in due course by the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.

Who will receive the vaccination?

To start with, people aged 80 and over, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk are the first to receive the vaccine.

Individuals over the age of 80 will be contacted by their GP and asked to fill out a health screening questionnaire and consent form.

Care home providers have been asked to book staff in to vaccination clinics, while GPs are also expected to begin vaccinating care home residents shortly.

Currently, vaccinations are by appointment only.

Who is getting it next?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its advice on priority groups to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on December 2.

Lists of people to be vaccinated in care homes have also been produced, although the logistics around how they will get the vaccines are still being worked through.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he hopes vaccinations in care homes in England can "start before Christmas".

After care home residents, those aged 80 and above and frontline health and social care workers, it lists:

  • All those 75 years of age and over
  • All those 70 years of age and over; clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  • All those 65 years of age and over
  • All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • All those 60 years of age and over
  • All those 55 years of age and over
  • All those 50 years of age and over
Health secretary Matt Hancock said hospitals' debt would be written off. Picture: Pippa Fowles/Crown

Health secretary Matt Hancock said hospitals' debt would be written off. Picture: Pippa Fowles/Crown/Downing Street/PA Wire - Credit: PA

What happens next?

People who receive the jab are given two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart.

Those who are vaccinated will receive some level of protection around 12 days after the first jab but the best protection comes a week after the second dose.

But though many will hope the roll-out of the programme will signal a return to normality, guidance over restrictions remains in place.

Health bosses still urge even with the vaccination programme for the public to continue following social distancing guidelines and restrictions.

NHS England's medical director, professor Stephen Powis, said Tuesday's vaccinations are a "turning point in this pandemic".

"This is the way out of it, the beginning of the end." he said."It's not going to happen tomorrow, it's not going to happen next week or next month.

"We still need to socially distance, we need to follow all those restrictions in place.

"But, in 2021, vaccination programmes will mean we can get back to normality."

The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said the UK is unlikely to get back to a semblance of normality before spring, and that we might still need face masks next winter.