CORONAVIRUS vaccines could be available to some of the county's most vulnerable people as early as next week.

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The jab, which has been deemed safe by British regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust will be one of more than 50 hospital trusts in the country to receive the vaccine first.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two doses, given 21 days apart.

Around 10 million doses are expected to be available to use in the UK in the coming weeks for priority groups, including healthcare workers, with 800,000 doses arriving next week.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that people are given the vaccine in the following order, although there is likely to be some overlap:

  1. Residents in a care home for older adults, and their carers
  2. Everyone aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
  3. Everyone aged 75 and over
  4. Everyone aged 70 and over, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable
  5. Everyone aged 65 and over
  6. People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death from Covid-19
  7. Everyone aged 60 and over
  8. Everyone aged 55 and over
  9. Everyone aged 50 and over

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This is an important next step in our response to the coronavirus pandemic and hospitals will shortly kick off the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history.

“The NHS has a proven track record of delivering large scale vaccinations from the winter flu jab to BCG and, once the final hurdles are cleared and the vaccine arrives in England’s hospitals, health service staff will begin offering people this ground-breaking jab in a programme that will expand to cover the whole country in the coming months.”

After the priority groups, there will be a second phase of vaccination for younger groups.

Local NHS and public health teams will be given some flexibility to allocate vaccines to other at-risk groups, including people from ethnic backgrounds and deprived communities.

People will be vaccinated twice - 21 days apart - and immunity starts seven days after the second dose.