Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said it was the “largest-scale” vaccination campaign in the country’s history. He added: “This feels like the beginning of the end but, of course, it’s a marathon not a sprint. It will take many months for us to vaccinate everybody who needs vaccination.”
The over-80s, care home workers and NHS staff at high risk will be first to have the jab.
But Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said that there was no need for the over-80s to worry if they didn’t get their appointment letter in the next few weeks.
He said: “The reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’
Each person needs two doses of the vaccine, which is thawed out before use.
If everyone in the UK was to be inoculated, with the population standing at about 68 million, 136 million doses would be required.
The first batch is being administered at 50 hospitals across the country.
It is not known when exactly all the hubs will receive doses but deliveries are expected throughout the week.
GPs and other primary care staff are being put on standby for deliveries from next week.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is overseeing the process.
As more stocks become available the injections will be given to frontline health workers, other older people and high-risk groups.
Yesterday ministers showed a vaccination card that people can use to keep as a record of their jabs.
They said there were no plans for “immunity passports” but those who are immunised are encourage to carry the card in their purse or wallet.
It shows the dates and batch number of the two jabs they receive.
The vaccination news came as the official daily statistics showed a further 231 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the UK total to 61,245.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called tomorrow, when the first jabs are given, “V-Day”.
He said: “There’s no doubt that having the vaccine early…will bring forward the moment when we can get rid of these blasted restrictions.
“But until then we have got to follow them.
“Tuesday is V-Day. We are going to vaccinate right across the country, right across the whole UK.
“There will be people vaccinated in Northern Ireland, in Wales, in Scotland, in every part of England, because I want people to know that this is for everyone equally, according to clinical need.
“Right across the country help is on its way.”
Meanwhile the head of MHRA insisted there “should be no doubt” about the safety of the vaccine.
Dr June Raine said: “I would really like to emphasise that the highest standards of scrutiny, of safety and of effectiveness and quality have been met, international standards. And so there should be real confidence in the rigour of our approval. It will help us turn the corner.”