Residents and staff in care homes for the elderly will be first in line for coronavirus vaccines, according to interim guidance published by Public Health England ahead of approvals for jabs.
Those aged over 80, along with health and care workers, are in the second priority level, followed by over-75s in the third level.
But the list could be upended by the logistics of storing the first vaccine to come on stream, it has already emerged.
The Pfizer/BioNtech jab – the only one so far being assessed by watchdogs – has to be stored at -70C, which is easier to do in hospitals. So it may make sense to give it to NHS workers while plans for moving it into care homes are thrashed out.
Doctors at more than 1,000 GP sites being set up for this vaccine have been told the first doses could be available in just 10 days if the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency approve the jab.
The rest of the PHE priority list states the fourth band will include all those aged over 70, as well as all adults classed as clinically extremely vulnerable; the fifth will be for those aged over 65; and the sixth for all adults in at-risk groups.
Seventh will be over-60s; eighth over-55s; and ninth will be over-50s.
After that, it will be available for the wider population.
The list remains provisional but the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is due to publish an updated version next week which it is thought will remain almost unchanged.
The UK has ordered more than 350 million doses of vaccines, including 40 million from Pfizer/BioNtech. It is hoped five million will be given by Christmas.