A DORSET hospital has been selected as one of 53 'hubs' across the country to receive the coronavirus vaccine next week.

Dorset County Hospital was confirmed as one of the NHS sites chosen by the government to receive the vaccine as the rollout is set to begin.

The news comes following the approval of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine by the government, making the UK the first western country to approve a vaccine.

The move has paved the way for mass vaccination to start next week throughout the nation, including in Dorset.

Leading hospitals will be designated as vaccine hubs to start immunising NHS frontline staff and patients. Hub hospitals will be responsible for vaccinating their own staff and making sure neighbouring hospitals can get the jab to their own staff.

Following the vaccination of NHS staff, efforts will be focused on patients at highest priority including those aged 80 and above, along with care home residents and carers. The rest of the population will follow in the coming weeks.

The vaccine is given in two doses – three weeks apart. Data from clinical trials showed the vaccine is 94% effective in protecting people over the age of 65 from coronavirus, with trials suggesting it works equally well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities.

This was confirmed in a document released by the Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment NHS England and NHS Improvement team, and made the UK the first country in the world to pre-order supplies of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

The document also stated that there were also no serious safety concerns reported in the trials.

The first deliveries of the vaccine to hospitals could come as early as Tuesday with 800,000 doses being made available next week. 40 million doses have been ordered overall, which is enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population. The majority of doses are expected to be distributed in the first half of next year.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "This is a momentous occasion and provides fresh hope that we can beat this pandemic, with the UK at the forefront of this revolutionary breakthrough.

"I can’t thank enough every single person who has contributed to this triumph – from the thousands of volunteers who took part in clinical trials, to the teams of expert scientists and clinicians at the MHRA who carefully analysed reams of data.

"This vaccine, when combined with effective treatments, will form a vital part in making COVID-19 a manageable disease, hopefully allowing us to return to normality in the future."