Vaccination programme will be “marathon, not sprint”

Healthcare leaders have warned that implementation of a national vaccination programme will take considerable time and the UK is “not out of the woods yet”.

Responding to the news that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved by the MHRA for use in the UK, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “This is the starting klaxon for people readying to deliver the vaccine. What’s ahead will be a marathon and not a sprint, with many months ahead to vaccinate everyone who needs it. This welcome news, however, does not mean that we are immediately out of the woods.

Mortimer warned that more clarity was needed from the government on the details of how the programme will be rolled out.

“Our already-stretched NHS faces a monumental effort now to roll-out the vaccine quickly and effectively. Our members across the NHS have already done a great deal of planning for this moment but there are still questions to be ironed out quickly and support needed to ensure the process works as well as we need it to. We need to see effective coordination at national, regional and local levels and support with logistics and the appropriate technology to ensure we are recording who has been vaccinated in the correct way.

He added that it was vital that health and social care staff were among the first to receive the vaccine.

“We now need to see more detail, including about the priority groups to receive the vaccine and it is important to see health and social care staff among them,” he said.