Up to 2,000 people working in roles in the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain will be offered jabs to help ensure the UK gets the doses it needs to protect the most vulnerable, the Government has announced.
The move follows a plea from AstraZeneca to protect workers involved with the manufacture of the vaccine to ensure the supply chain runs smoothly.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said staff working for Pfizer and AstraZeneca that are involved in crucial supply chain roles in the UK will be among those eligible for the jabs.
The employees will be the first group of key workers outside of the NHS, social care and care home workers to be vaccinated.
Highly trained workers who have been identified by the Government as being irreplaceable and crucial to the delivery of vaccine supplies will be offered vaccines.
Last week Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, called for people in the vaccine process to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
He told the Science and Technology Committee that an outbreak had already occurred in one group working on the vaccine.
"One of the things that I'm worried about is actually maintaining a continuous supply and work on this vaccine," he said.
"Of course with the outbreak and the pandemic where it is – I feel it's critical to the people that are working on this vaccine are actually immunised.
"Because if you have an outbreak at one of the centres – which we've had actually – or in one of the groups in Oxford (that) is working on new variants, or the people that are working on the regulatory files, everything stops.
"This is a concern that I have and so again we're pushing to try and get our key workers that are working on the vaccine project immunised to try and prevent these outbreaks."
The DHSC said that workers identified as "irreplaceable and crucial" to the delivery of vaccine supplies will be offered vaccines.
"Highly trained workers who have been identified by the Government as being irreplaceable and crucial to the delivery of vaccine supplies will be offered vaccines," DHSC said.
Those eligible include staff making the vaccine substance, working on fill and finish and batch testing, as well as those involved in end-to-end coordination who are responsible for getting doses to the right place at the right time.