The COVID-19 vaccination programme is getting underway with nurses set to play a key role.

In what is the largest such campaign in NHS history, the first people will line up to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from 8 December.

Healthcare staff will be among the first to receive the vaccine

In Wales and Scotland front-line health and social care staff, alongside people aged over 80 years, will be the first to get the recently approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week.

In Northern Ireland, the vaccine will also be given to healthcare workers, with some of the first doses being given to the vaccination teams who will be involved in the subsequent vaccination programme.

In England, the vaccine will be distributed to 50 hospital trusts with priority given to the over 80s and care home staff.

However, any remaining supplies of the vaccine not being used for these groups will be given to healthcare staff at the greatest risk from COVID-19.

Royal Colledge of Nursing (RCN) professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said nursing staff would not only be helping the rollout of the programme, they would also be helping to encourage take up of the vaccine.

'Nursing staff have always been involved with vaccine delivery and probably deliver the majority of vaccines that we already give in the UK, so that will continue,' she said.

'Supporting people and encouraging people to take up the vaccine is as much part of actually giving the injections. All of those things will be really crucial.'

She added: 'This gives us light at the end of the tunnel almost, although we know it's going to be a long process.'

World Health Organization (WHO) immunisation director Kate O'Brien said local nurses and doctors would play a leading role in 'inspiring public confidence' in COVID-19 vaccines.

'One of the things that really helps communities and individuals who have to make decisions about being vaccinated is the trust that they have in where the information is coming from,' Professor O'Brien told a WHO press conference.

'Information really does need to come from the most local level possible: from trusted providers, from people's physicians, or the nurse that they go to.'

Logistical problems affect care home rollout

While official guidance outlines that care home residents and carers are a higher priority for the vaccine than NHS staff there are logistical problems getting it to them.

n England and Scotland, the process of distributing the vaccine to care home residents will start from 14 December.

Wales and Northern Ireland are still working on the distribution of the vaccine to care homes.

Culled from