Where, how and when can I be vaccinated in the Midlands?

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is being rolled out across the region. Credit: PA

The coronavirus vaccination programme - described as the largest in history - is now well underway across the Midlands.

Hospital trusts and GPs have been administering the jabs, and now we're seeing mass vaccination hubs open in the region.

  • WATCH: Sameena Ali-Khan speaks to Birmingham's Director of Public Health, Dr Justin Varney

When will I be vaccinated?

People are urged NOT to contact their GP about being vaccinated.

Instead they will be invited, probably by letter, to book an appointment to get the vaccination as soon as it's their turn.

This could take days, weeks or months depending on where people fall on the priority list:

  • Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers

  • 80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers

  • 75-year-olds and over

  • 70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

  • 65-year-olds and over

  • 16 to 64-year-olds with serious underlying health conditions

  • 60-year-olds and over

  • 55-year-olds and over

  • 50-year-olds and over

Health officials have warned that the rollout will be a “marathon not a sprint”, and are urging people over 80 not to be worried if they are not yet been called to have their jab.

The government says it expects the "majority of vulnerable people" to be vaccinated in January and February.

It also says teachers, police and other critical key workers will be first to receive the vaccine in phase 2 of the roll out. However, there are calls for teachers to have the jab sooner.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently said that all adults should have had the vaccine by autumn.

Where will I go to be vaccinated?

Where people are told to go to be vaccinated will depend on their location and appointment availability. Hospitals and GPs are contacting patients to invite them to go for their jab.

From Thursday 14th January pharmacies started to roll out the vaccine, with Woodside Pharmacy in Telford the first in the Midlands to offer it to patients.

Some people are also being invited to have their vaccine at one of a number of mass vaccination centres that are opening up across the region.

Which venues in the Midlands are opening as vaccination hubs?

  • Derby Arena

Derby Arena opened its doors as a vaccination centre on Thursday, January 7.

The sports venue will serve people in the East Midlands who've been invited to an appointment to have the vaccine.

  • Millennium Point

Millennium Point in Birmingham opened as a mass vaccination centre on Monday 11 January. It's the first of its kind to open in the West Midlands and is run by the NHS in Birmingham and Solihull.

Again, this venue works on appointment only.

The centre vaccinated 500 people on its first day and hopes to eventually administer 2,500 jabs a day.

  • The Black Country Living Museum

The popular tourist attraction - which has also previously been used in the filming of the hit TV series, Peaky Blinders - will be up and running as a vaccination hub before the end of January for those who've been asked to attend an appointment.

The tourist attraction will act as a vaccination hub for people in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Three vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK.

US-based firm Moderna has become the third jab to be approved for use, after the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Despite the increase in vaccine approval and a cranking up in the number of venues providing the jabs, a number of councils have voiced outrage over the number of people not attending their appointment.

How does the Pfizer vaccine work?

Those receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will need two appointments as it has to be given in 2 doses, 21 days apart.

The science behind the vaccine is new.

Unlike other vaccines, it doesn't use a harmless dose of the virus to trigger an immune response and so protect you from catching it in future.

An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.

These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.

No virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine, meaning the rate at which the vaccine can be produced is accelerated.

One downside to mRNA vaccines is that they need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, around -70 and -80 degrees, and they cannot be transported easily.

How does the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine work?

The vaccine – called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – uses a harmless, weakened version of a common virus which causes a cold in chimpanzees.

Researchers have already used this technology to produce vaccines against a number of pathogens including flu, Zika and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers).

The virus is genetically modified so it is impossible for it to grow in humans.

Scientists have transferred the genetic instructions for coronavirus’s specific “spike protein” – which it needs to invade cells – to the vaccine.

When the vaccine enters cells inside the body, it uses this genetic code to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus.

This induces an immune response, priming the immune system to attack coronavirus if it infects the body.

How does the Moderna vaccine work?

The Moderna jab is also a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, so uses the genetic code of the coronavirus rather than a harmless does of it.

Like the Pfizer vaccine, it's injected into the body and causes cells to create antigens. These are then recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.

The mRNA vaccines use a new kind of scientific technology. Credit: PA

Can we stop social distancing after having the vaccine?

While the roll out of a vaccine is a mile stone in the fight against coronavirus, health bosses are warning that we're still months away from something that resembles normal life.

They say people must continue to follow covid guidelines until rates across the region are manageable.

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