News that some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies have developed successful vaccines against COVID-19 is a turning point in getting back to normal life. So, when will the coronavirus vaccine be widely available?

What needs to happen next?

The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, and alternatives developed by companies such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have generated exciting data. Though at the time of writing, they had not secured regulatory approval.

However, the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was at an advanced stage of validation for use in the UK, and well on the way to securing emergency authorisation in the US and Europe. Other versions are viewed as a top priority for review and approval.

When will the vaccine start to be distributed?

As soon as the regulatory authorities approve their use, these vaccines can be distributed in the UK. That’s because the Government placed orders even before their effectiveness had been proven in clinical trials. For example, it pre-ordered 100 million doses from Oxford University-AstraZeneca, to speed up distribution as soon as positive outcomes were secured.

Billions of doses of these vaccines will be manufactured throughout 2021.

How will vaccines be prioritised

There has also been work underway to establish distribution systems and priorities for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Government hopes to start vaccinating certain groups of people in by the end of December – possibly even by Christmas! This is likely to be care workers and residents of care homes, then health workers who come into direct contact with the infection, as well as anyone particularly vulnerable to its fatal outcome.

It is believed that by Easter most people in the UK will have been offered the vaccine.

Which vaccine will be used?

Pharmaceutical companies have developed different formulas, with different levels of efficacy (such as 95% in some cases). Some versions have more challenging storage requirements than others. The Oxford University vaccine is far less difficult to store and also cheaper.

The UK Government has pledged to buy quantities of vaccines from all main providers. Part of its plan to make sure there is an effective protocol for anyone who wants it.

Meanwhile, flu jabs are vital

Prior to the national roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s crucial to have your annual flu vaccination, particularly if you’re over 50. This helps to manage the twin threats of flu and coronavirus and ensures you stay healthy enough to enjoy this medical-science breakthrough.

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