A timeline: How the vaccination programme unfolded

Catherine Wylie, PA
·3-min read

More than 15 million people have now received their first jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Here is a look at how the vaccination programme unfolded.

– December 2: The UK becomes the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

– December 8: Grandmother Margaret Keenan, 90, becomes the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab as the NHS launches its biggest ever vaccine campaign.

Review of the Year 2020
Margaret Keenan, 90,became the first person in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry (Jacob King/PA)

– December 30: A Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca is approved for use in the UK.

Meanwhile, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said more at-risk people need to be vaccinated faster and it is agreed to delay the second dose of both vaccines, with a new plan to give second jabs within 12 weeks of the first.

– December 31: The UK’s chief medical officers said a first Covid vaccine dose offers “substantial” protection as they urged health service colleagues to back plans to delay second doses so more people can have their initial jab.

– January 4: Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old retired maintenance manager, becomes the first person in the world to receive the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine outside clinical trials.

Coronavirus – Mon Jan 4, 2021
82-year-old Brian Pinker receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford (Steve Parsons/PA)

Meanwhile, on the same day, the Prime Minister said that by mid-February it is expected that the first vaccine dose will have been offered to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the JCVI.

– January 8: The Department of Health announces that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

– January 9: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh receive their Covid-19 vaccinations and take the unusual step of making a health matter public.

Queen Elizabeth II 70th Anniversary of Accession
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh announced that they had received the Covid-19 vaccine (Steve Parsons/PA)

– January 11: The first mass vaccination centres open in England.

– January 25: The European Union threatens to impose tight controls on the export of coronavirus vaccines made in the bloc, potentially impacting the UK’s supply of Pfizer jabs.

– January 29: Downing Street warns the EU not to disrupt the supply of coronavirus vaccines after Brussels imposes export controls and impinged on the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

The EU backs down after widespread condemnation of the move.

Meanwhile, trial results show a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson which could be delivered to the UK in the second half of this year is 66% effective against Covid-19.

Elsewhere, the Novavax jab – to be produced on Teesside – is shown in late-stage trials to be 89% effective in preventing coronavirus, and the Prime Minister confirms it will be assessed by the MHRA.

– February 3: More than 10 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the Prime Minister and Health Secretary confirm.

– February 4: A Government-backed study is announced to determine whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for the first and second doses.

– February 8: People over the age of 70 who have not yet been offered a Covid jab are encouraged to contact the NHS to arrange an appointment. The health service in England changes its messaging from “we will contact you” to “contact us” for those over the age of 70.

– February 14: Health officials say clinically vulnerable people and people aged 65 to 69 in England are receiving letters about booking their jab as the vaccination programme moves into a new phase from February 15.

The Government says 15 million people in the UK have now received a first dose of a vaccine – the equivalent of everyone in the top four priority groups.

The Prime Minister says the target of offering a first dose to everyone in those top four groups has been reached in England.