How YOU can help roll out the Covid-19 inoculation: Vaccines Minister NADHIM ZAHAWI urges every Briton to play their part to make us safe again
As we begin the New Year we find ourselves again asked to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. I know how tough this news will have been for so many people, and how much we all miss our friends and family.
There is, however, one crucial difference this time around. As the Prime Minister highlighted in his address to the nation on Monday evening, we are rolling out two vaccines across the whole of the UK as part of a huge national effort to protect the most vulnerable.
People can be heartened and reassured that for every day that passes under the new restrictions, thousands more people will have received that vital vaccine, and more lives will be saved.
This national effort has been boosted with the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after it met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Brian Pinker, 82, who was the first to get the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, pictured receiving the jab from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford on Monday
We have access to 100 million doses of this vaccine, and I am delighted to say that they are already being delivered round this country and into people’s arms.
The people that are receiving these life-saving injections are husbands, wives, grandparents, and of course our heroic healthcare workers.
Everyone in the NHS is working hard to deploy them as soon as they receive the vials. We’ve already vaccinated over 1.3 million people, which is fantastic news, and we’re only just getting started.
The UK has led the way in authorising and rolling out these Covid vaccines, and the NHS is now opening more vaccination sites so we can protect as many people as possible, in the shortest time possible.
As the Prime Minister has said we will offer vaccinations to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) by the middle of February.
These groups are residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, all those aged 70 and over, and frontline health and social care workers.
Every vaccine given to someone in these vulnerable groups brings us closer to the end of these national restrictions.
While our brilliant NHS is leading the way delivering the vaccinations, every single one of us has a role to play and I know Mail readers will be keen to do whatever they can to help throughout this pandemic.
A close-up of an Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine vial containing 10 doses held up by a nurse at Pontcae Medical Practice on Monday in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
As we begin the New Year we find ourselves again asked to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives, writes Nadhim Zahawi (pictured: Birmingham train station on Tuesday)
We can support our loved ones getting their vaccines, helping them plan for getting to their appointment, we can sign up to be a volunteer at a vaccination centre or for further clinical trials to help deliver the next treatments for coronavirus.
And finally we can all make sure we keep up to date with the latest medical advice and continue to abide by the rules to curb the spread of the virus so our doctors and nurses can get on with the job of delivering these vital vaccines.
I am consistently humbled by the effort being put in by our brilliant NHS staff, our GPs, our pharmacists, and our social care workers to get this vaccine delivered and to save lives.
We will keep expanding this vital programme, helping bring an end to this national lockdown and start returning our country back to normality.