Dr Blogs

“Coronavirus vaccine an incredible achievement but hurdles remain”

The news that the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved in the UK is most welcome and marks an incredible achievement of modern science.

Less than a year ago we hadn’t even heard of Covid-19, never mind a vaccination against it.

It offers hope that we will finally start to bring the pandemic to an end, but we have never tried to deliver a vaccination programme of this size, and at this speed.

There are many practical hurdles to consider and overcome.

It’s hugely important that frontline healthcare and social care workers – at the forefront of fighting this terrible virus – are given every opportunity to get the vaccine.

In the first phase of the pandemic, significant numbers of healthcare workers became seriously ill and many lost their lives to the virus.

Priority to those at risk

This led to scores of frontline staff being risk-assessed in terms of their vulnerability to the infection and so the BMA fully supports the JCVI recommendation that healthcare workers at highest risk from the virus should be given priority to be vaccinated.

Those same healthcare workers – many highly experienced in providing vaccinations – will be a crucial aspect of making this roll out a success.

This is the first of several Covid-19 vaccines to be approved for use but it’s also the one that presents the greatest logistical challenges in terms of storage and immunising patients outside a hospital setting.

The Government and NHS England must not underestimate the scale of the challenges this programme presents.

We need to make sure staff have the resources and support in place to turn this scientific breakthrough into an operational success.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul is BMA council chair.

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