THE first batch of Covid-19 vaccinations for Somerset is set to be delivered imminently as it emerges the UK's vaccination programme is set to start next week.

Yeovil District Hospital has been chosen as one of 53 vaccine hubs in England.

The trust that runs Yeovil will co-ordinate delivery of the jabs in the area.

Yeovil was named as one of the hubs in a recent letter to health chiefs from Emily Lawson and Sue Harriman, of the Covid-19 Vaccination Deployment Programme.

It comes after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for clinical use.

The first jabs are likely to be given from early next week, with people over 80 and care home staff the first people to be inoculated in hospitals.

Large vaccination centres will be set up - the Army has already been preparing Ashton Gate, in Bristol, for mass vaccinations of people in and around the city, including North Somerset.

GP surgeries will then begin operating as local vaccination centres over the coming weeks, with a planned 1,000 hubs around England.

Staff are currently being recruited in Somerset to administer the jabs locally. One NHS source said Taunton Racecourse is likely to be used as a vaccination centre.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at -70degsC and people will be given two doses, 21 days apart.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is hopeful the AstraZeneca vaccine will be approved soon - it does not need to be stored at such low temperatures.

He said: "From early next week we will start that programme of vaccinating people against Covid-19 here in this country.

"And as we know from earlier announcements, this vaccine is effective. The MHRA have approved it as clinically safe. And we have a vaccine, so it's very good news."

The NHS priority list for people to receive the jab is:

  • 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.

It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99 per cent of preventable mortality from Covid-19.