This is a landmark day for our country and a momentous day for the NHS as we begin the biggest vaccination campaign in our history.
NHS staff have been pulling out all the stops to prepare for ‘V-day’.
When nurses deliver the first ‘jabs’ this morning it will be the culmination of months of hard work by many people here and abroad, and the latest intervention from the NHS to help protect the public from Covid-19.
When the first jab is given today, scientists, doctors and health professionals will have together achieved in months what normally takes years.
So it’s right to say a huge thank you to all those who have worked tirelessly to develop the vaccine, to the volunteers who selflessly took part in the trials and the expert regulators for the thorough job that they have done in ensuring it is both safe and effective.
This is a landmark day for our country and a momentous day for the NHS as we begin the biggest vaccination campaign in our history, writes Sir Simon Stevens
NHS staff have been pulling out all the stops to prepare for ‘V-day’, Mr Stevens added
Urging readers to ‘play their part’ and take up the jab when it is offered to them, he said: ‘We can take heart that we are now beginning to have the tools to beat this terrible virus back’
Of course, it will take some months to reach everyone at risk as more vaccine supply comes online.
So in the meantime we need to continue to take great care.
Too many of us have lost loved ones or seen them face serious illness. And all of us have endured the pain of separation, isolation and anxiety that have resulted from needed social distancing measures.
So after such a testing year we can take heart that we are now beginning to have the tools to beat this terrible virus back.
But while we celebrate progress it is vital we do not let down our guard.
Following the guidance on ‘hands, face and space’ will only be more important as we head into the festive season.
As everyone knows, prevention is better than cure.
Since the first cases were diagnosed back in January NHS staff have given their all to care for almost 200,000 patients with Covid-19 while keeping other essential services going. NHS staff are raring to go and today is just the first step on the road back to normality.
Delivering the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine presents complex logistical challenges as it must be kept at -70C until it is needed and can only be moved a limited number of times after leaving the manufacturer.
A graphic shows how the Pfizer jab will work, by entering the patient’s cells, causing the immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells ready to destroy those infected with coronavirus
A graphic demonstrates the order of priority in which the vaccine will be rolled out, starting with residents in care homes
That is why we are starting vaccinations at 50 hospital hubs this week, then expanding to more hospitals in the coming weeks, along with GP surgeries and care homes.
Community pharmacists and vaccination centres housed in sports venues and conference centres will be stood up as more supplies come on-stream in the new year.
The NHS has a proven track record of delivering vaccines for diseases including tuberculosis, polio, and meningitis.
The history of the health service is one of innovation and staff are now showing the same agility in delivering the vaccine that they did during the first wave of infections, when hospitals were rapidly reconfigured to respond to the pandemic.
Daily Mail readers can play their part. The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to receive the vaccine. And when you are contacted, please do take up the offer.
As our doctors have said, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and delivering the programme is the work of months rather than days or weeks.
But when we come to look back on today, all of us in the health service hope that it will mark a decisive turning point in our shared battle against coronavirus.