Sir Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, told MPs the vaccination program would include two “sprints” and one “marathon”.
He told the Commons Public Accounts Committee, “This is a sprint through mid-February (to vaccinate the four highest priority groups) and then a sprint from mid-February through late April to extend the vaccination to the rest of the common Vaccination and Immunization Committee identified groups at higher risk.
“Then it will be a marathon from April to summer to fall … where we will offer this push to anyone in the country who wants it, over 18 years of age for whom the vaccines are approved.”
At least two million people are vaccinated against Covid-19 every week, ministers said as they set out plans for the largest vaccination program in Britain’s history.
Ministers said tens of millions of people will be vaccinated at more than 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK by spring.
Officials also confirmed that every adult would be offered a vaccine “by fall”.
The UK government’s Covid-19 vaccine delivery schedule sets out how it will work with the NHS and the armed forces to meet its ambitions.
The first phase of the rollout will focus on those at greatest risk of serious illness and death.
The second phase could include “targeted vaccination of people at high risk of exposure and / or people who provide key public services,” the document says.
Officials were increasingly urged to vaccinate frontline workers outside the NHS and care work – including teachers, transport workers and first responders – as well.
The document adds that everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site by the end of January.
And for those outside of that basin, in very rural areas, the vaccine will be delivered to them via mobile teams.
By the end of the month, ministers want to be able to vaccinate at least two million people a week in England alone.
And by the end of January, it is hoped that everyone in the first priority vaccination group – residents and staff in over 10,000 nursing homes across the country – will be offered a vaccine.
New numbers for England show 2.3 million coronavirus vaccines had been dispensed in England by Jan. 10.
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) said a health care workforce of over 80,000 could be involved in the introduction of the vaccine.
And more than 200,000 community volunteers have stated that they will help with non-clinical aspects of the program.
Health and Welfare Secretary Matt Hancock said, “It took a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to launch this ambitious program of operations so incredibly.
“Our vaccine deployment plan specifies how we will use these efforts to expand the program quickly and safely.
“Our UK Covid-19 vaccine delivery schedule shows our way back to normal, but that doesn’t mean we can be complacent and it is vital that everyone abides by restrictions in the weeks ahead.
“The next few months will be a significant opportunity to turn the fight against Covid. I look forward to seeing how these plans bring more security and hope to people’s lives after a difficult year.”
Economy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “This historic vaccination program is a truly national effort and shows that the whole of Britain is coming together to quickly and effectively protect the UK public from this terrible virus.
“It’s fantastic to see so many people sign up to help, and I encourage companies, wherever possible, to give their employees the time and leeway to volunteer.” This is the greatest logistical challenge of our time and we all have to play our part. “