The UK medicines regulator is poised to license one of the coronavirus vaccines for emergency use within days, and possibly as soon as today.
The news emerged as people who signed up to help others 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 as volunteer responders prepared to pick up people’s medicine, drive them home from hospital and provide support over the telephone.
But it is now hoped they will help with the Government’s mass vaccination drive as ‘volunteer vaccinators’ giving the jab to patients.
The UK medicines regulator is poised to license one of the coronavirus vaccines for emergency use within days, and possibly as soon as today (stock image)
Speculation was growing in Whitehall last night that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority is poised to sign off the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within days.
Ministers are preparing for a decision as soon as today, which would allow it to be administered as early as next week. NHS England last night published its full contract specification for GP practices delivering Covid jabs.
This stated that they must be able to operate from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week including bank holidays when required for reasons such as needing to use up supplies of a vaccine without wasting any.
A letter sent to all practices suggests that it may be necessary for some staff to vaccinate patients on Christmas Day.
Vaccination sites are expected to be able to deliver at least around 1,000 jabs per week. The contract to vaccinate begins next Tuesday and GPs will be paid £25.16 for every two jabs they administer.
Volunteers without medical training can put themselves forward through the GoodSAM app to give injections working with St John Ambulance.
The role description states: ‘Volunteer vaccinators will be trained to deliver a vaccination to a patient. They will also be ready to act if a patient has an adverse reaction.’
People are also being sought to act as vaccination care volunteers. They will help patients get to the right place for their jab and be on hand to provide first aid if anyone becomes unwell.
More than 400,000 offered to give their time in the spring as volunteer responders prepared to pick up people’s medicine, drive them home from hospital and provide support over the telephone (stock image)
Volunteer patient advocates, the third type of helper, will ‘concentrate on the welfare of patients through their experience’.
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.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘Given the likely phasing of vaccine supply from the manufacturers, most Covid vaccination for high risk people is likely to take place between January and Easter, so extra vaccinators are being recruited and trained for that period, and volunteers will have the opportunity to help.’
The GoodSAM app states that volunteer vaccinators must be aged under 70 and over 16, and willing to undertake between six and 12 hours of training, among other criteria mandated by the NHS.
They must be willing to complete at least two shifts of up to eight hours a month.
St John Ambulance has described the vaccination operation as ‘like nothing seen in peacetime’ in this country.