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When will you be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine?

AllClear Team
Last updated 25 March 2021

It’s great news that both the Pfizer and the Oxford-AstraZeneca  vaccine, has been approved by regulators for use in the UK and has started to be rolled out, with over 15.5 million people already having received the vaccine.   It’s very welcome news for people planning travel in 2021, particularly for the over 50s.

In fact, according to AllClear’s just-released Annual Survey, last summer just 10% of people were considering long-haul travel – with news of the vaccine this figure has now risen to 30%. Equally, in July 2020 a quarter (24%) were considering short haul travel – now with news of a vaccine this has risen to 51%. Overall 55% of the UK is considering overseas travel following the vaccine news.

55% is considering overseas travel after news of the vaccine

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines as and when they become available.

In the rest of this blog post we talk about when you will be eligible for the  vaccine, how a vaccine is developed, and then a round up of the Vaccines in development.

When will you be eligible for the Covid vaccine?

Vaccines are being given to the most vulnerable first, as set out in a list of nine high-priority groups, covering about a quarter of the UK population.

They are thought to represent 90-99% of those at risk of dying from Covid-19.

  1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
  2. 80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. 75-year-olds and over
  4. 70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. 65-year-olds and over
  6. 16 to 64-year-olds with serious underlying health conditions
  7. 60-year-olds and over
  8. 55-year-olds and over
  9. 50-year-olds and over

People aged over 80 in hospital, frontline health staff and care home workers have been the first to get the jab at 70 designated hospitals hubs across the UK.

The second phase of vaccination will focus on the rest of the population, mainly the under-50s, who are much less likely to be ill with Covid-19.

It could be well into 2021 before this phase begins, by which time more Covid vaccines could be approved for use.

The British-made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be made available quickly because it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures.


Where will you get a vaccine?

You’ll be invited to book an appointment to get a vaccine as soon as it’s your turn, probably by letter.

Vaccinations will take place:

  • in hospital hubs – about 70 have been set up across the UK so far
  • in care homes, when the logistics are confirmed
  • in thousands of GP surgeries as stocks become available
  • in sports stadiums and conference centres acting as major vaccination hubs next year

The NHS is recruiting 30,000 volunteers to help with the rollout, including lifeguards, airline staff and students – who will be trained to give the jabs.

About 200 GP surgeries will offer vaccinations to the over-80s first.

The programme will then be expanded out to more than 1,000 surgeries – with each local area having a designated site.

How is a Vaccine developed?

Stage 1: Scientists conduct initial research to develop a vaccine.

Stage 2: If step one is successful, the vaccine moves to clinical trials.

Stage 3:  At clinical trial stage, thousands of people are given the vaccine to confirm safety and effectiveness. If clinical trials are successfully completed, move to mass production and distribution. In some instances, the vaccine is already being manufactured in anticipation of successful clinical trials. In this case, distribution would be able to begin immediately. There are currently more than 12 vaccines in stage 3.

As we know, there are a number of different vaccines in various stages of development, both from private pharmaceutical companies and university labs around the world and collaborations between the two. It’s great news that one of the vaccines listed below, the Pfizer vaccine, has been approved by regulators for use in the UK and will be getting rolled out before the end of 2020. 

News that the older generation will be some of the first to be vaccinated is great news for travel planning in 2021 for the over 50s.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines as and when they become available.

In the below, we round up the status of some of the different vaccines.

European Medicines Agency (BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine)

The European Medicines Agency accelerated the approval process for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech and US pharma group Pfizer.

The first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows.

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

WHO’s COVAX Global Vaccine Facility

Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline, with an aim to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

UK Government Trials

The Government’s strategy is to build a portfolio of promising vaccine candidates to ensure the best chance possible of finding one that works.

The UK has access to 6 different vaccine candidates, across 4 different vaccine types, reflecting the government’s strategy to ensure the UK has a supply of vaccines should any of these prove safe and effective. These include the University of Oxford’s vaccine being developed with AstraZeneca, as well as agreements with the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance, Valneva and GSK/Sanofi Pasteur.

The UK Government has secured early access to 90 million doses of 2 promising vaccine candidates but they still need to complete clinical trials. These are:

  1. Supported by the Government, Novavax is running a Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). They plan to manufacture their vaccine in the UK with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.  This will ensure that once available, the vaccine can be supplied to the British public as soon as possible.
  2. UK will co-fund a global clinical trial with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson to establish how effective their vaccine could be in providing long-term immunity against COVID-19. Janssen’s vaccine is being made available on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic to both the UK and the rest of the world to ensure the global supply and equitable access of a vaccine.

If the vaccines are safe and successful in clinical trials, both could be available in the UK in mid-2021. They would be given first to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers; adults with medical conditions that put them more at risk and older people.

The Government also launched last month the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry to enable people across the UK to sign up for information about participating in clinical trials. Aiming to get 500,000 people signed up by the end of October, this would provide scientists and regulators the assurances they need that vaccines secured are safe and effective for use.

In total, the UK government has struck deals for 190 million doses of different vaccines.

This includes:

  • 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine made from a genetically engineered virus
  • 30 million doses of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine, which injects part of the coronavirus’ genetic code
  • 60 million doses of the Valneva inactivated coronavirus

Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, told the BBC: “What we are doing is identifying the most promising vaccines across the different categories, or different types of vaccine so that we can be sure that we do have a vaccine in case one of those actually proves to be both safe and effective.

“It’s unlikely to be a single vaccine for everybody.

“We may well need different vaccines for different groups of people.”

Oxford Vaccine

A coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford appears safe and triggers an immune response.

Trials involving 1,077 people showed the injection led to them making antibodies and T-cells that can fight coronavirus.

Antibodies:  small proteins made by the immune system that stick onto the surface of viruses.

T-cells: a type of white blood cell, help co-ordinate the immune system and are able to spot which of the body’s cells have been infected and destroy them.

Nearly all effective vaccines induce both an antibody and a T-cell response.

The Oxford vaccine is showing 90% efficiency. 

The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19,  is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It has been heavily modified, first so it cannot cause infections in people and also make it “look” more like coronavirus.

Scientists transferred the genetic instructions for the coronavirus’s “spike protein” – the crucial tool it uses to invade our cells – to the vaccine they are developing. This means the vaccine resembles the coronavirus and the immune system can learn how to attack it.

Is it safe?

Yes, but there are side-effects.

There were no dangerous side-effects from taking the vaccine, however, around 17% had a fever and more than six-in-10 patients had a headache. The researchers said this could be managed with paracetamol.

We will continue to update this blog with Vaccine news from around the world.

How many Vaccines are being Tested in Total?

According to BBC News, there are 140 in pre-clinical trials, 1o in phase 1 (small scale safety trials), 9 in phase 2 (expanded safety trials), and 4 in phase 3 (wider testing and effectiveness assessed).

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