Currently there are three vaccines currently approved for use in the UK.
The mRNA Pfizer vaccine was the first vaccine approved by the MHRA on 2 December.
The modified adenovirus AstraZeneca vaccine was the second vaccine approved on 30 December.
The mRNA Moderna vaccine is the most recent vaccine to be approved on 8 January.
The UK Government has also produced a summary of all the COVID-19 vaccines that it has signed supply agreements for.
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority) is the UK’s independent medical regulator. They ensure medicine, medical devices and vaccines are safe to use. Read more about their role in approving COVID-19 vaccines.
The MHRA consider the effectiveness, quality and safety of any vaccine candidate. For both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccine, the MHRA has concluded they are safe to use and provides effective protection against severe disease.
The MHRA have responsibility for continued monitoring of both safety and potential side effects following roll-out of any vaccine.
The JCVI (Joint Council on Vaccination and Immunisation) is an independent departmental committee advising UK health departments on immunisation.
They consider the clinical features of vaccines including efficacy and safety and advise on the best way to ensure that the vaccines reach the public.
JCVI assess the impact and the cost effectiveness of vaccine rollout and make prioritisation decisions based on the clinical characteristics of the vaccine.
The priority list
The JCVI have published guidance on the priority list for receiving the vaccine:
- residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
- all those 75 years of age and over
- all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- all those 65 years of age and over
- all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- all those 60 years of age and over
- all those 55 years of age and over
- all those 50 years of age and over.
Prioritising the first dose
The JCVI advised that the delivery of the first vaccine dose to as many eligible individuals as possible should be initially prioritised over delivery of a second dose.
They stated that the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be given between three to 12 weeks following the first dose. The second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be given between four to 12 weeks following the first dose. You can read more about the evidence to support that decision from PHE.
Our policy, demands and recommendations to NHS organisations, institutions and the Government to help protect doctors, the NHS and the public during the pandemic.