GPs will start booking Covid-19 vaccination appointments within days as doses of the new jab arrive.
Details of the next stage of the staggered rollout emerged as Prof Chris Whitty said social distancing restrictions could start being lifted once 20 million vulnerable Brits have been vaccinated.
Elderly people and care home workers will receive letters to have their jab at GP surgeries from next week after hospitals started the historic vaccination programme this week.
The comments made by England’s Chief Medical Officer in evidence before MPs offered hope of a return to normality before Spring reports the Mirror. The NHS has been advised either 1.2 million or 1.6 million more doses will arrive next week, on top of the 800,000 doses this week.
The remainder of an initial four million doses for December will arrive the week after.
It came as “significant” reactions detected in two people who had the Pfizer jab caused a halt yesterday (Wed) to all vaccinations in people with a history of allergic reactions.
Prof Whitty was asked by MPs on the Joint Coronavirus : Lessons Learnt inquiry when vaccinations could enable social distancing restrictions to be lifted.
He said: “This disease is one that is very predictably much more dangerous than for older people and people with pre-existing health conditions.
“Once we’ve gone through that first list which takes us down to roughly 20 million people there are going to be some wider choices about where we go from there on. Those will be important ethical and political choices as well as clinical choices.
“Once you got to that stage, I think, a conversation about now what do we want to do next becomes a really important conversation.”
Prof Whitty suggested this point was unlikely to come until the busy January and February period for the NHS has been passed.
He said: “I think very few people would recommend having starting to really remove things during a high risk period of the year which the winter always will be for respiratory infections.
“I want to be very clear, for the next three months we will not have sufficient protection.”
Prof Whitty said “three of four” vaccines should be available next year when “wider choices” would need to be made about who gets them.
Ending social distancing after most of the 20 million most at risk are vaccinated would still leave many younger Brits getting the virus and developing Long Covid. Lasting side effects can include brain fog, fatigue, muscle pain, breathlessness and lung damage.
Prof Whitty added: “It will still lead a lot of people who could become ill with this and could in some cases have serious outcomes.”