THE VACCINE’s approval in the UK was a world first with Cumbria’s health chief calling the news “the start of the end game.”

Director for public health Colin Cox celebrated the news that Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine had been approved by the regulator.

The UK is now set to roll-out the vaccine as early as next week. With Cumbrian likely to see vaccinations later this month.

Director Colin Cox said: "The news around the vaccine is of course massively welcome, but I have to say it's very early days, it's just been announced.

"We haven't started to receive the kits yet. It's inevitably going to take a bit of time for the vaccination programme to ramp up."

He added that the vaccinations will begin for Cumbria "this side of Christmas" but that it will be "relatively small scale."

Mr Cox said: "We're not into mass vaccination campaigns at this point."

He added that Cumbria is likely to see its mass vaccination campaign "into the new year and into the spring."

“So very positive news but it's the start of what's going to be a very long end game."

Meanwhile, the latest Covid-19 figures up to December 2 show that the overall number of number of outbreaks in education settings decreased, attendance levels remain stable and outbreaks in care homes continue to decrease.

Data collected for the week ending November 27 showed 404 new cases in Cumbria a decrease of 454.

Carlisle had the greatest number of new cases for the sixth week in a row. The city also saw the greatest number of new cases in the county with a rise of 107.

The number of new patients admitted with COVID-19 Positive status in both North Cumbria Integrated Care and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust decreased from the previous week. However, the number of deaths due to Covid-19 increased to 31 from 24 the previous week.

Professor Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical warned on Thursday that life would not be back to normal immediately.

Vaccinations are set to be rolled-out amongst the most vulnerable groups first, with the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation prioritising care home residents and their carers.

"Vaccinations will then be given to those over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care staff.

Councillor Sue Sanderson, cabinet member for Schools and Learning is disappointed to see that teachers will be vaccinated at the same time as the general public.

“They’ve got the responsibility at the end of the day of keeping children safe. Every day is a different day.

“They’re front line workers, they’ve got people coming in and out of the buildings all day.”