Professor Van-Tam said: “Nobody wants lockdown. But if you want that dream to come true as quickly as it can come true, then you have to take the vaccine when it is offered to you.”
The Armed Forces and NHS have begun urgent preperations for the centres have have been told they should be completed within a fortnight, according to sources.
Military personnel have been ordered to transform about 10 sites into vaccine hubs, including the Nightingale hospital at the London ExCel centre, Epsom racecourse, in Surrey, and Bristol’s Ashton Gate football stadium and Robertson House conference facility in Stevenage will serve the capital and south of England, according to sources.
The vaccine will then also be rolled out to GPs and Pharmacists that have the capacity to store the vaccine at the -70C it needs to stay effective.
In the response criticism that the temperature of the vaccine would make it difficult to be issued around care homes, Professor Van-Tam argued that it was “extremely unfair when one considers a new virus emerged less than 12 months ago and we now have our first vaccine”.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer continued: “This is a complex product. It is not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in several times.”
The NHS has been preparing for a mass vaccination programme for several weeks and could have up to 1,500 GP practices and drive-through centres ordered to open from 8am to 8pm every day, each dispensing at least 1,000 jabs a week.
Under the current plans, local clusters of about five practices covering approximately 50,000 patients, known as Primary Care Networks, will combine to organise vaccine delivery and the health service is hoping to immunise one million people per week.
However any potential rollout will be limited by the speed of manufacture in Belgium, with plans to distribute “as rapidly as company can manufacture”.