THE Government has confirmed that care home residents will be among the first to receive the UK's first approved vaccine.

Care home residents will begin recieving the newly-approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from next week, the Prime Minister's spokesman today said.

But there have already been some concerns raised relating to issues with storage, the low temperatures required and the number of times a vaccine can be moved.

The vaccine, which has proven 95 per cent effective against Covid, can be transported to care homes, stored for up to five days and administered there, according to Sean Marett, chief commercial officer at BioNTech and responsible for distribution.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved on Wednesday by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as the Government said vaccination will begin next week.

Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is that vaccines should first be offered to elderly people in care homes and care home workers.

Despite this advice, it is still unclear who will be the very first to receive the new jab.

Care homes said they had received no clear communication or information on the practicalities of the imminent rollout for residents.

But asked if care home residents would start to get the vaccine next week, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Yes, you have seen the prioritisation list with care home residents being right at the top of that list.”

Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive, said he thinks it will be difficult for the vaccine to be used in care homes, adding: “In light of this, we need the Oxford vaccine to be approved as soon as possible and a vaccination programme put in place so that care home residents can be protected from Covid-19.”

But BioNTech’s Mr Marett said the vaccine could be transported by van to a care home and stored in a fridge for up to five days.

He explained: “We have stability studies now really supporting the evidence for being able to transport up to six hours at 2C-8C, so you can really take vials from the vaccination centre, one of the large ones, put them in a bag at 2C-8C, and take them to the care homes where they can be administered directly to the patients.”

It is understood that the vaccine can only be transported four times – and three moves are needed to get the vials to storage hubs in Britain.

Therefore the final move will need to take place just before the vaccine is given to a patient.

The trays of vaccine come in batches of 1,000, which means there could be potential wastage if care homes, which typically have dozens of residents, receive one batch each.

Methodist Homes, a charitable provider which runs 222 care homes and schemes across Britain, said it was “delighted” that care home residents and care staff are at the top of the priority list.

Chief executive Sam Monaghan said: “There will be considerable logistical challenges involved, and we are yet to receive details on how the vaccinations will be rolled out to our residents and staff, although a number of our care homes have been contacted locally by GP surgeries and health authorities.

“We now await further details from the Government on how the rollout will start, who will be administering the vaccinations and where it will be done.”

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, said the organisation is “waiting to receive a clear strategy for getting it through the care home door”.

She said: “The vaccine has been billed as lifesaving, and it must be afforded to those who need it most, and not fall at the first hurdle because of the absence of a thought through logistical plan.”

Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare also said they have no information on the practicalities of the rollout.

Anna Selby, head of the care group’s Covid-19 task force, said: “As soon as we know more about the proposals for distribution, we will be ready to support its rollout to all our care homes.”