THE new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has been rolled out to GP surgeries in Blackburn with Darwen.

Blackburn with Darwen CCG have received the British manufactured vaccine which is said to have revolutionised the vaccination process due to it being able to be kept at fridge temperature - unlike the Pfizer vaccine which needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, making it difficult to distribute to care home settings.

Dr Mohammed Umer, Clinical Director for Blackburn with Darwen Primary Care Networks said: “We have received the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and this is fantastic as it is more easily deployable across other settings.

"We will be prioritising care home residents to ensure we vaccinate our most vulnerable people as quickly as possible.

"I would again like to thank all our GP practices and the team at Local Primary Care GP Federation, our local Pennine Lancashire CCG team, our Blackburn with Darwen Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services, and Community Health Partnership. This has been a tremendous local team effort.

"Colleagues across the NHS and partners are doing an incredible job to deliver what it is the largest vaccination programme in our history."

The vaccine has been trialled at selected hospitals for surveillance purposes before being sent out to community-based local vaccination services, with Royal Lancaster Infirmary becoming a vaccination centre for the new jab on Monday (January 4).

There is also a vaccine hub site Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital as well as at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Burnley Teaching Hospital, Furness General Hospital, Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital.

The first of a number of larger-scale vaccination centres planned for the area will be among many more sites over the next few weeks, including one at Blackburn Cathedral which is hoped to open on Monday, January 18.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, five new sites are opening in the community this week in the new phase of the vaccination programme, the largest in NHS history. This is on top of the 27 that were already open and vaccinating.

Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 Vaccination Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to be able to launch more vaccination sites in Lancashire and South Cumbria over the past few weeks.

“Combined with the arrival of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, we will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster.

“The Covid-19 vaccination programme has gotten off to a strong start across Lancashire and South Cumbria and NHS hospitals and primary care centres are working extremely hard to vaccinate as many people as possible in a safe and coordinated way. Please do not contact the NHS for vaccination and instead wait to be contacted.

“The rollout of the vaccine involves a wide range of organisations working together. We need to thank the significant support to the NHS to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme from our wider partners, including Lancashire County Council, Cumbria County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military and many more. More vaccination sites will continue to be confirmed over the coming weeks.”

Today, the US Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use by the medicine’s regulator in the UK with seven million doses had already been ordered by the UK government.