Some doctors' practices in England will be able to offer the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University from Thursday, the National Health Service (NHS) said, targeting the vaccination of the most vulnerable within six weeks.
More than 1.3 million people in the United Kingdom have received one shot of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.
"We are aiming to offer vaccinations to the majority of care home residents by the end of January and all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February," health minister Matt Hancock said.
The government must ramp up shots to around 2 million a week to hit its target. The top priority groups include care home residents, the elderly, the clinically vulnerable, and frontline health and social-care workers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that if the vaccine rollout goes to plan, new lockdown measures introduced this week could start to be eased in February.
AstraZeneca's vaccine will be rolled out in some General Practice (GP) services, the health service said, after it was first administered in hospitals on Monday.
Another 180 GP-led vaccine services are coming online this week, with up to 100 more hospital sites. That is on top of 700 sites that were already distributing the Pfizer vaccine after its approval last month.
AstraZeneca's vaccine does not have the ultra-low temperature requirements that Pfizer's does, making it easier to deploy.
Initial boxes of the Pfizer vaccine contained nearly 1,000 doses, but the NHS said that smaller boxes of Pfizer's vaccine had also been approved for use that could be used in settings like care homes without wasting doses.
Britain is prioritising giving as many people as possible a first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine to offer some protection, delaying second doses for up to 12 weeks. While some doctors have queried the move, on Tuesday England's Chief Medical Officer said that the balance of risk supported it.