Covid: Moderna vaccine rollout begins in UK as carer gets first jab

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

A 24-year-old unpaid carer who looks after her grandmother has become the first person in the UK to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

Elle Taylor from Ammanford received the jab at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, as Wales became the first UK nation to distribute the vaccine.

Ministers have said the rollout of the jab will begin in England in the third week of April, with the UK having bought 17 million doses of that vaccine – enough for 8.5 million people.

Miss Taylor said she only found out on Tuesday evening that she was to be the first Briton to receive the jab in the UK.

"It was great, the nurses were lovely and it didn’t hurt," she said.

"I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely.

"My grandmother has had her first dose and she is going for her second dose on Saturday."

Asked how she felt to be a trailblazer for millions of other people, the 24-year-old said: "I feel thrilled and really happy and honoured, and I just hope it goes well for everybody."

Ms Taylor, who works at a further education college in Llanelli, received the Moderna jab from staff nurse Laura French at West Wales General Hospital’s outpatients department.It's the start of the rollout of the country's third vaccine - after the Pfizer jab came into use from December 2020 and the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from January.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen on the latest developments with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab

The good news for the vaccine rollout comes ahead of a joint TV briefing with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the growing worries about rare blood clot risks from the Oxford/AZ jab.

The briefing coincides with a ruling expected from the EU medicines regulator on whether the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can cause blood clots in younger people.

A trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in children has been paused while regulators investigate reports of a rare form of blood clot among adults.

The University of Oxford said no safety concerns have arisen from the children’s trial and Sage adviser Professor Calum Semple said the decision to pause had been made out of “exceptional caution”, as he urged people to continue accepting Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

Assessments are under way into a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), occurring together with low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia) following vaccination in adults.

Both the MHRA – which said it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events out of 18.1 million doses of the jab administered up to and including March 24 – and WHO have said that to date the benefits of the vaccine in preventing coronavirus outweigh any risks.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Dr Maggie Wearmouth, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), indicated that “perhaps slowing things down” with the rollout “until we’re absolutely certain” might be wise.

Speaking in a personal capacity, she told the Daily Telegraph: “The issue is about safety and public confidence. We don’t want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing.

“We’re not here to blindly follow targets or due dates. We will do what is necessary.”

Fellow JCVI member Professor Adam Finn said the situation must be “addressed urgently”.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Speaking in a personal capacity, he told BBC Newsnight: “It’s clear that everyone is taking these cases enormously seriously, we do need to get to the bottom of this.

“We are walking a tightrope here between the need for speed but also the need for clarity and scientific certainty about what’s going on and of course the public wants to know, so very important issues that need to be addressed urgently.”

When will the rest of the UK get the Moderna jab?

Small business minister Paul Scully told ITV News the Moderna jab rollout will begin in England in the third week of April, echoing the timeframe set out by vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first batch of Moderna vaccines had arrived in the country on Monday and will be delivered over the coming months.

It has not been confirmed when the rollout of Moderna will begin in Northern Ireland.

More than 31 million first doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in the UK, according to government data up to April 5, while more than five million second doses have been given out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, Cheshire Credit: PA

The potential role of “Covid status certification” – which has drawn criticism from some Tories as well as Labour – in certain settings to reduce social distancing restrictions hit a snag when a comedy club pulled out of a pilot after accusing the Government of failing to clarify whether it would involve vaccine passports.

The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool said it had been the target of a “hate campaign” online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial such certification.

A government spokesperson said they “strongly condemn” the online abuse the club received and confirmed the initial pilot events would be based on proof of a negative test result rather than any requirement for people to have had a jab.