Thank you for contacting me about the coronavirus vaccination programme and for expressing your thoughts and concerns.
I am sure you will agree that it is excellent news that the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine has now been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for deployment across the UK. This authorisation includes conditions that the Oxford vaccine should be administered in 2 doses, with the second dose given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first. The MHRA has also clarified that for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the interval between doses must be at least 3 weeks.
For both vaccines, data provided to MHRA demonstrates that while efficacy is optimised when a second dose is administered, both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. At a later date when the second dose of the vaccine is administered, this completes the course and will provide long term protection.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has subsequently recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority and I am assured that the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers support this position. At this stage of the pandemic, prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time. This will help to reduce severe cases, hospitalisations and mortality.
The clinical risk priority order for deployment of the vaccines remains unchanged and applies to both vaccines. Both are very effective vaccines, giving very high protection against severe disease, with good safety profiles. I am confident that by maximising the number of people getting vaccinated in the next 12 weeks, we will have much greater overall protection which will allow these challenging restrictions to gradually be lifted and some degree of normalcy to return.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important matter and I hope this response has provided some useful information and assurance.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking