The Moderna vaccine is going to be given to patients in the UK for the first time today.
First doses of the jab are going to be administered at West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen – and a total of 5,000 doses have been distributed to vaccination centres.
Moderna’s vaccine is the third to be approved for use in the UK, and will be rolled out alongside jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca.
The UK has purchased 17 million doses of the Moderna jab, enough for 8.5 million people, and phase three results suggest the vaccine has 100% efficacy against severe cases of coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m delighted we can start the UK rollout of the Moderna vaccine in west Wales today.
“The UK government has secured vaccines on behalf of the entire nation and the vaccination programme has shown our country working together at its best.
“Three out of every five people across the whole United Kingdom have received at least one dose, and today we start with the third approved vaccine. Wherever you live, when you get the call, get the jab.”
Wales health minister Vaughan Gething added that the introduction of a third vaccine “significantly adds to our defences in the face of coronavirus and will help protect our most vulnerable”.
Scotland received its first batch of Moderna vaccines on Monday, and a Department of Health spokesperson has said the jab will be rolled out in England “as soon as possible this month”.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said yesterday that this jab is set to be deployed “around the third week of April”.
It has not been confirmed when the rollout of Moderna will begin in Northern Ireland.
According to Moderna, no serious safety concerns have been identified among those who have taken its vaccine. Severe events after the first dose have included pain around the injection site, while some have reported fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and headaches after receiving their second dose.
It comes after a trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on children in the UK was paused while the medicines regular investigates a possible link between the jab and rare blood clots in adults.
A University of Oxford spokesperson stressed that there were “no safety concerns” with this specific study, but that further information was being awaited from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “No decisions have been made on whether children should be offered vaccinations.
“We will be guided by the advice of our experts on these issues including the independent MHRA and Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation.”
Over the weekend, it was reported that there had been 30 blood clotting cases recorded by the MHRA out of more than 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot administered.
The MHRA confirmed that of those 30 people, seven had died as of 24 March.
The World Health Organisation maintains that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risks.
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said: “There are some things that are very clear. The first is that these cases are very rare indeed. The second is that the vaccines that are available and in use in the UK prevent COVID very effectively.”
He added: “In short, if you are currently being offered a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, your chances of remaining alive and well will go up if you take the vaccine and will go down if you don’t.”