A coronavirus vaccine has been approved for in the UK today, with administration of the vaccine starting from next week.
NHS England has said the first doses will be given to patients at around 50 hospital hubs, starting next week.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine after the regulator green-lit a jab from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.
People in care homes and their carers, and those over the age of 80, will be the first to get the jab, according to a priority list from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI).
Here's all your questions answered about the coronavirus vaccine after today's announcement.
How does it work?
Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code.
An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.
These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.
No actual virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine meaning the rate at which it can be produced is dramatically increased.
When can I get it?
Initial batches of the Pfizer jab available this year are likely to mainly be used on vulnerable groups.
These include the elderly and health and care staff.
Draft NHS plans suggested members of the public aged under 70 will not be able to be vaccinated until the new year. By then it is likely other jabs such as that developed by Oxford University will be available in huge numbers.
Those aged under 50 will likely have to wait until January and March.
By early next year up to five million people a week could be getting one of the jabs in the UK.
How will I get it?
The NHS will write to members of the public to invite them to come in to be vaccinated.
You will be then be able to book an appointment at a vaccination centre and at a time of your choosing.
Where will I be vaccinated?
Initially vaccinations are likely to take place in 50 hospital hubs.
Mass vaccination centres may also be kitted out with ultra cold storage facilities to store and administer much of the Pfizer jabs.
Epsom racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate football stadium in Bristol and the Nightingale hospital at London’s ExCel centre are among ten sites which members of the Armed Forces have reportedly been ordered to transform into vaccine hubs.
A further 1,000 small sites will be established across England including GP surgeries, pharmacies and small health clinics will be used.
NHS leaders have said there will be “roving teams” deployed to vaccinate in care homes and vulnerable housebound people, possibly transporting doses by motorbike.
Who will vaccinate me?
Regulations have been changed to allow those who are not healthcare professionals to give the jab.
All vaccinations will be supervised by a healthcare professional such as a doctor or nurse.
NHS volunteers signed up at the start of the pandemic are being drafted in for the mass vaccination effort.
More than 400,000 offered to give their time in the spring to pick up people’s medicine, drive them home from hospital and provide support over the telephone.
It is hoped they will help as “volunteer vaccinators” or in roles supporting medics who administer the jabs.
Volunteers without medical training can put themselves forward through the GOODSAM app to give injections working with St John Ambulance.
Will I need it every year?
It is unclear how long immunity lasts after having a vaccine.
Clinical trials in to all the major vaccines are ongoing so will track how long participants avoid reinfection.
New improved vaccines are likely to be developed in the next year so that if one is required annually it may not be one of those first approved in the weeks ahead.
Why has Britain approved a vaccine first?
The UK has achieved the fastest approval of the Pfizer vaccine because it conducted a “rolling review”.
Until now vaccines have taken five to ten years to produce.
Investigators insist standards were not compromised while the first Covid-19 vaccine reached approval in less than a year.
Investigators were involved in clinical trials from June, rather than waiting for them to complete to start analysing data.
Quality control of batches were tested as they were manufactured but before final effectiveness data was “unblinded” and revealed to those conducting trials.
Such a vaccine involves three phases of clinical trials.
In the case of Covid-19 the next phase began before the previous one had concluded, in the knowledge that it could be scrapped or restarted if the previous phase went on to publish poor results.
This has relied on hundreds of millions of pounds of investment from governments such as the UK.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said: “The public can be absolutely confident that every rigorous check has been done to reach the judgment to be reached. The benefits far outweigh any risk.”
Is it safe?
Clinical trial data on 43,500 people in six countries detected no serious side effects.
Side effects included a sore arm or fever and usually did not last longer than a day.
However the MHRA will launch a “yellow card” reporting system inviting members of the public to report side effects as part of its active recall system.
Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed said: “We haven’t identified any serious adverse reactions throughout the trial program but it is important to continually monitor the safety of this.
“The MHRA has a very proactive vigilance strategy to be able to monitor the safety.”