The military is urgently working to transform some of the UK's biggest venues into emergency coronavirus vaccination centres, according to reports.
The Armed Forces and the NHS have begun preparing approximately 10 sites around England which will soon be used as immunisation hubs after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for public use on Wednesday morning.
These sites include London's Nightingale hospital, Surrey's Epsom racecourse and Manchester's Tennis and Football Centre, the Telegraph reports.
The NHS is understood to have formally requested assistance from the Ministry of Defence in accordance of the official 'military aid to the civil authorities' protocol.
Military personnel have been given a fortnight to ready the venues for a nation-wide roll-out of the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine, which it's hoped will signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
Almost 3,000 military personnel are reportedly helping the NHS to prepare for the roll-out, with another 14,000 on standby.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) formally authorised the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday morning, 800,000 doses of which will become available next week.
The vaccination centres are being prepared for use by the end of the weekend as the first jabs could take place as early as Monday morning, with the Telegraph reporting NHS bosses have appealed for volunteers to administer them.
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Every major city will have a dedicated mass vaccination hub with a further 1,000 smaller sites across England consisting of GP surgeries and pharmacies, among other venues.
The sites that will reportedly be turned into vaccine centres include:
- Nightingale Hospital at ExCel, London
- Robertson House, Stevenage
- Ashton Gate, Bristol
- Epsom racecourse, Surrey
- Leicester racecourse
- Manchester Tennis & Football Club
- Newcastle Centre for Life
The UK has secured early access to 350 million vaccine doses through six different vaccine developers, more than the US or the entirety of the European Union.
This includes 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab, which must be stored at a specific cold temperature between -70 and -80C.
Because of this safety requirement, it's expected many of the first vaccinations will be given to healthcare workers in hospitals, despite the fact they're second in line on the Government's priority list.
Elderly care home residents and staff are meant to be the first to receive the vaccine, while the majority of the vaccines will become available to the rest of the population in the New Year.
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