Getting people to return for a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine could be a “key challenge” in the rollout, leading nurses have said.
The nation’s largest ever vaccination programme begins this week after officials approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK.
People who receive the jab will be given two doses three weeks apart.
Those who are vaccinated will receive some level of protection around 12 days after the first jab but the best protection comes a week after the second dose is delivered, officials have said.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that getting people to return for the second dose could be a “key challenge”.
Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health at the RCN, told BBC Breakfast: “Well, the key thing that we know from other vaccine programmes is actually making sure that people come back for that second dose and making sure that we factor that in with the appointments that people are given, because it’s a 21-day gap between the first dose and the second dose of the vaccine.
“So I think that’s the key challenge.”
She said that nursing staff will not only be helping the rollout of the programme, they will also be helping to encourage take up of the vaccine.
“Nursing staff have always been involved with vaccine delivery and probably deliver the majority of vaccines that we already give in the UK, so that will continue,” she said.
“Supporting people and encouraging people to take up the vaccine is as much part of actually giving the injections. All of those things will be really crucial.”
She added: “This gives us the light at the end of the tunnel almost, although we know that it’s going to be a long process.
“I think that ‘marathon not a sprint’ is absolutely right – it’s going to take many months for us to get the vaccine out to the people who need it and other vaccines will come on, so it is going to take time.”