Care home residents and workers could be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine, according to interim guidance published on the UK government’s website.

The advice has been developed to facilitate planning for the deployment of a safe and effective vaccine as soon as one is authorised for use in the UK.

It’s become increasingly clear as vaccine testing has got underway that some groups of people would need to be given the vaccine first.

The new guidance reveals who would be prioritised to receive it. These include:

  1. older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. high-risk adults under 65 years of age
  7. moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
  8. all those 60 years of age and over
  9. all those 55 years of age and over
  10. all those 50 years of age and over
  11. rest of the population (priority to be determined)

The list has been developed based on a review of UK epidemiological data on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, in addition to data on developmental Covid-19 vaccines and mathematical modelling on the potential impact of different vaccination programmes.

It comes with a caveat that the advice remains under review until we know more about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines in development. For example, we still don’t know if the vaccines are suitable for, and work in, older adults.

Data from the UK indicates that those at greatest risk of severe illness and mortality from Covid-19 are adults over the age of 50 years, with the risk increasing markedly over the age of 70 years.

The advice reads that any vaccine programme will need to ensure every effort is made to get good coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, in areas of higher socio-economic deprivation, and in areas with outbreaks or high levels of community transmission.

Worldwide, there are no Covid-19 vaccines currently approved for widespread use. Some are approved for limited use. One of China’s vaccine candidates, for example, has been approved for use in the military. 

There are nine vaccines globally which are now in phase III trials – the last phase of trials before a vaccine is ready for public use.

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, recently said in a broadcast there is increasing evidence the vaccines are “pointing in the right direction”. He also said it’s possible that some vaccines could be available before the end of the year in small amounts for certain groups.

But it’s “much more likely that we’ll see vaccines becoming available over the first half of next year”, he added.

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