Army enlisted to help roll out the Covid vaccine in the UK - this is the plan

Monday, 11th January 2021, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2021, 3:40 pm

As calls to speed up the vaccine rollout ramp up, Boris Johnson has asked for the support of the British army to defeat coronavirus.

Mr Johnson was joined by brigadier Phil Prosser at Downing Street’s Covid briefing on Thursday 7 January, as a battle plan was outlined for the coming weeks.

It comes as the NHS looks to hit the target administering 15 million vaccinations by 15 February - a deadline set by the Prime Minister.

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But how do they plan on doing it? Here’s all you need to know.

Why has the PM sought the help of the army?

Mr Johnson has instructed the help of the armed forces in what he described as "an unprecedented national effort" to administer as many vaccines as quickly as possible.

The army has been working "hand in glove with the NHS and local councils" to set up a network, which will see 1,000 vaccination centres opened across the UK, said the PM.

Brigadier Prosser said his day job was to secure the delivery of combat supplies to UK forces in time of war and his team were drawing on its logistics knowledge from previous operations.

The mission was to support the NHS in delivering the maximum amount of vaccines and minimise the number of infections and deaths as quickly and safely as possible.

What is the UK vaccine rollout plan?

The plan is “unparalleled in scale and complexity” said brigadier Prosser, who outlined three steps they were taking to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, he and his team analyse the situation, then identify the choices and finally execute the plan at pace.

He said the delivery of 1.26 million doses of the vaccine and establishing 769 sites over the past 30 days was the equivalent to setting up a major supermarket chain in less than a month.

There are plans to increase the footprint by 20 per cent by the end of next week.

The government's aim is to offer vaccines to 13 million more people - the most vulnerable to infection of Covid-19 - by mid-February.

This includes care home residents, care home workers, frontline health and social care workers, over 75s, and clinically extremely vulnerable people.

From the end of February onwards it hopes to vaccinate the remaining priority groups.

How will people be vaccinated?

Mr Johnson said no-one should have to travel more than 10 miles to receive a Covid jab, with more than a thousand centres charged with administering vaccines across the UK.

There will be around 1,000 GP sites, 200 community pharmacies, 223 hospital hubs and 7 mass vaccination sites up and running next week (wc 11 January), according to the plan.

You will be contacted by the NHS when it is your turn to have the vaccine. Find a calculated estimate of where you are in the queue using this online calculator. [LINK]

What has brigadier Prosser said about the task ahead?

“My team is used to complexity and building supply chains at speed in the most arduous and challenging conditions,” said brigadier Prosser.

“The plan has many challenges which are difficult to balance. We need to make sure that every one of you has equal access to the vaccine, no matter where you are in England.”

And added: “The plan needs to be agile. We aim to deliver vaccines as soon after it is supplied as possible, not leaving vast quantities in the warehouse. It needs to be in arms, not on shelves.”

Who is Phil Prosser?

Brigadier Phil Prosser is the Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme.

Born in Llanelli, in Wales, he trained as a mechanical engineer at Cranfield University before studying for a Masters of Business Administration at the Open University.

He is the commander of the 101 Logistic Brigade, Iron Viper.

His team were brought in to help distribute PPE such as gloves, masks and gowns to NHS hospitals in the early days of the pandemic, in March 2020.

He reportedly enjoys cycling and is a fan of his hometown rugby side Scarlets.

What army rank is a brigadier?

According to the Ministry of Defence, a brigadier is a field officer rank in the British Army.

"Brigadiers can command a brigade or be a director of operational capability groups such as a director of staff," it states.

It is listed higher than a colonel and one below a major general. The highest rank in the British Army is a field marshal.