Emergency Nightingale hospitals could be turned into vaccination centres

The Nightingale hospitals which were established to create extra capacity for coronavirus patients could be used as mass vaccination centres, according to the Prime Minister’s spokesman.

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If a vaccine becomes available, the government wants to be able to vaccinate up to 1,000 people per day in a bid to restore some kind of normality by the middle of next year.

The PM’s spokesman said Nightingale hospitals are “one possible way” that large numbers of people could be vaccinated quickly.

Current plans for the rollout of a vaccine would see vaccines delivered at GP surgeries, pharmacies and mass testing centres, with retired medics and medical students likely to be drafted in to administer them.

Of the seven Nightingale hospitals, four are on standby for coronavirus patients. The Manchester hospital is in use, and those in Harrogate and Sunderland are “ready to take patients if necessary,” according to Downing Street.

Is a vaccine ready?

Pfizer and BioNtech’s coronavirus vaccine is 90 per cent effective and could be rolled out by the end of the year.

The government has secured access to 10 million doses which will be available before the end of the year, and a further 30 million beyond that, subject to final regulatory approval.

Other vaccine trials are also expected to produce results soon, such as Astra Zeneca and Oxford University’s, which is likely to report its findings in the next week or so.

Who will be the first to get a vaccine?

When a vaccine is ready to be delivered to the public, different groups will be prioritised access to it according to their level of risk.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is in charge of setting the priority levels, and has said that care home residents and workers will be the first to be vaccinated.

The vaccine would then be distributed to older people in ten year age bands, from the over 80s to over 60s.

Adults with underlying health conditions will be vaccinated next, then over 50s as the last group in phase one of the program.

Chairman of the JCVI, Professor Wei Shen Lim said that “if phase one is completed then we will have protected hopefully 99 per cent of those individuals who are at risk of dying from Covid-19.”