The government has introduced legal changes that permit more health workers to administer vaccines once they are clinically approved.
The amendments to the Human Medicine Regulations 2012 come into effect on Friday, meaning that experienced workers such as independent nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists will be able to give vaccinations after undergoing training.
It is hoped that this measure will help the speed at which any potential coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out.
Speaking about the new legislation, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS has vast experience in vaccinating millions of people against diseases every year.
“These legal changes will help us in doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator.”
Mr Hancock added that the new provisions would not affect pre-existing hospital, GP and community services.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said the changes “aim to improve access and strengthen existing safeguards protecting patients”.
“If a vaccine is developed before 2021, the changes to the Human Medicine Regulations will bolster existing powers that enable the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise temporary supply for any treatment or vaccine needed to respond to a public health need,” he added.
The amendments allow fast-track mass vaccination to take place without the approval of the European Medicines agency, which formerly had to issue a vaccine licence.
As of early September, the UK had pre-ordered 380 million Covid-19 doses, which works out as almost six per person, the highest rate in the world.