The Government has announced the key next steps to rolling out the newly approved coronavirus vaccine after the first batches arrived on UK shores.

The Pfizer/BioNTech treatment, the first to be approved by regulators, presents a big logistical challenge as it needs to be stored at around -70C.

But around 50 hospitals throughout the UK including the Royal Liverpool Hospital and Arrowe Park, designated as 'hubs' for administering vaccines, have been working flat out this weekend to prepare.

Today the NHS has announced that people over 80 and care home staff will begin receiving immunisations against Covid-19 throughout the week.

NHS England said patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

Hospitals will also begin inviting over 80s in for a jab and work with care home providers to book their staff in to vaccination clinics.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from covid. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.

Specialist Covid-19 vaccine freezers in a secure location, awaiting distribution of the vaccines to the NHS

GPs and other primary care staff are also being put on standby to start delivering the jab.

A small number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so during the following week (week beginning 14 December).

Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will spark into operation when further supplies of the treatment arrive.

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 political scene on Merseyside shapes all our lives - from the response to coronavirus to whether or bins get collected on time.

Sign up to the weekly Merseyside Report email, written by political editor Liam Thorp, to get the latest news and gossip from the corridors of power.

How do I sign up?

It's free, easy and takes no time at all.

  1. First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
  2. Once you're there, put your email address where it says at the top, then click on the Echo Politics button. There are other newsletters available too if you want them as well.
  3. When you've made your choice, press the Save Changes button at the bottom.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced how the rollout will take place, having already begun processing the first packages of vaccine in "secure locations" after they were shipped from Belgium.

A spokesman said a specialist medical logistics company will check to make sure the vaccines have remained intact throughout their journey and will make sure that low temperatures were maintained.

The government, through the Vaccine Taskforce, has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as part of 357 million doses procured of seven vaccine candidates in total.

The distribution of vaccine doses is being carried out by Public Health England and the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through systems specially adapted from those used successfully for the national immunisation programmes.

Describing the process, DHSC said:

Keep up to date with Covid-19 cases in your area by adding your postcode below:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This coming week will be an historic moment as we begin vaccination against COVID-19.

“We are prioritising the most vulnerable first and over-80s, care home staff and NHS colleagues will all be among the first to receive the vaccines.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure we can overcome significant challenges to vaccinate care home residents as soon as possible too.

“I urge everybody to play their part to suppress this virus and follow the local restrictions to protect the NHS while they carry out this crucial work.”