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On 2 December 2020, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted a ‘temporary authorisation’ for the first Covid-19 vaccine in the UK (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine) meaning that it could be administered to patients. Roll-out of the vaccine began the following week, with the first NHS patient receiving the first of two doses of the vaccine on 8 December 2020. The MHRA has since granted a temporary authorisation to a second Covid-19 vaccine (the AstraZeneca vaccine) and it is now being rolled out across the UK, while a third vaccine (the Moderna vaccine) received a temporary authorisation from the MHRA on 8 January 2021. Deployment of the Moderna vaccine began in Wales on 7 April 2021, with England following the week after. Most recently, on 28 May 2021, Janssen became the first ‘single dose’ Covid-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval from the MHRA. It will be rolled out later this year.

The Government has published a UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan (11 January 2021). The plan sets out how Covid-19 vaccines will be supplied, prioritised for those most at risk, made accessible across the country and administered by the healthcare professionals. It has also published a COVID-19 vaccination uptake plan (13 February 2021), explaining how it intends to make sure that as many people as possible take up the offer of vaccination.

Links to resources and guidance on the Covid-19 vaccine programme published by Public Health England, the NHS and other health bodies can be found in the briefing. Background information on vaccination, published by the House of Commons and Lords Libraries and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), is also included. These sources and others have been used to address commonly asked questions about the Covid-19 vaccine programme. These will be updated as needed.

Please note that NHS guidance emphasises: 

All adults aged 18 or over can now get vaccinated against COVID-19. You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS. If you were contacted but have not booked your appointments, you’re still eligible and can book your appointments anytime.

The NHS advises that those that aged 16-17 years will be contacted by a local NHS service, such as a GP surgery, to book their vaccination appointments. Some walk-in Covid-19 vaccination sites are also offering the vaccine to people aged 16 and 17. Covid-19 vaccination for those aged 12-15 years will be delivered via the school age vaccination programme.

The information in this briefing is not medical advice, or a substitute for medical advice. Individuals seeking advice on their own medical treatment should consult their GP or use the NHS 111 service (in England). For the latest official guidance on coronavirus and the Covid-19 vaccination programme, please consult the NHS and Public Health England guidance linked to in section 1 of this briefing.

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