Coronavirus vaccine freezers have been pictured on UK soil for the first time as millions await the rollout of the largest scale immunisation programme in NHS history.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use last Wednesday, with the first doses set to be delivered to hospitals on Monday.
Images from Public Health England taken at a secure location show specialist Covid-19 vaccine freezers lined up at a secure location.
A photo of the inside of one of the freezers shows stacks of trays which will store the doses at temperatures of -70C to -80C.
Preparations are underway to roll out the vaccine from as early as Tuesday in what has been named ‘one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced’.
The doses arrived in the UK from Belgium this week and are being put through a 12 to 24 hour ‘post-delivery quality assurance process’ to ensure they maintained integrity during transit.
Each box has five packs of 975 doses and needs to be opened and unpacked manually, before temperature data is downloaded. Only sites with the necessary MHRA licence can split the vaccine packs.
Checks are carried out by a specialist medical logistics company and rely on information on the shipment temperature data supplied by Pfizer.
Once all processes are complete, the jab will be made available to order by authorised sites in the NHS.
It will first be administered from hospital hubs before 1,000 local vaccination centres operated by GPs become available. These will be increased as more vaccines are imported into the country.
The DHSC said: ‘Once we get more vaccine and are able to split the large packs down, we will be able to do both bigger vaccination centres and smaller arrangements through local pharmacies.’
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Despite the huge complexities, hospitals will kickstart the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history from Tuesday.
‘The first tranche of vaccine deliveries will be landing at hospitals by Monday in readiness.
‘The NHS has a strong record of delivering large scale vaccination programmes – from the flu jab, HPV vaccine and lifesaving MMR jabs – hardworking staff will once again rise to the challenge to protect the most vulnerable people from this awful disease.’
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