NHS patients in England are to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday, officials have confirmed.
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said the move “marks another milestone” in the coronavirus vaccination programme.
And a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the announcement paves the way for the next phase.
Developed in the US, the vaccine is the third to be added to the NHS “armoury”, alongside those from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
The news comes as the Government confirmed it has met its target of offering a Covid-19 vaccine to the highest priority groups by mid-April – those over the age of 50 and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
And the next phase of the vaccination programme – for healthy adults under the age of 50 – is expected to begin this week.
We now have a third jab in our armoury and NHS staff will be using it at more than 20 sites from this week, with more coming online as supplies expandProfessor Stephen Powis, NHS England
The Vaccines Taskforce has secured 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine for the UK.
The jab has already been rolled out in Wales and Scotland, and the vaccine is expected to be delivered to people in Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.
The NHS in England confirmed that the Moderna jab will be delivered at more than 20 vaccination sites this week, including Reading’s Madejski Stadium and the Sheffield Arena.
More sites will be able to deliver the jab as supply increases.
Prof Powis said: “The Moderna rollout marks another milestone in the vaccination programme.
“We now have a third jab in our armoury and NHS staff will be using it at more than 20 sites from this week, with more coming online as supplies expand.
“England’s vaccination programme is our hope at the end of a year like no other, so please do come forward and get your jab when you’re invited.
“It is safe, quick and effective – it will protect you and your loved ones.”
Commenting on the news, Professor Adam Finn, a member of the JCVI, told BBC Breakfast: “This is enormously important; these are large numbers of doses (and) it’s another tool in the toolbox.
“We’ve got two excellent vaccines already that work really, really effectively but the more vaccines we’ve got, the more security over supply.
“I hope this is another step along the way and that we’ll actually see more vaccines come through over the coming months and we’ll have a really strong and secure supply.
“The programme hasn’t been able to move forward quite as fast as it would have if there had been more vaccine supply this month.
“Having this additional supply of Moderna is clearly going to speed that up and enable us to get started on phase two and people in their 40s.”
A 24-year-old carer from Wales became the first person in the UK to receive the jab last week.
Elle Taylor, from Ammanford, got the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen on April 7.
Almost 40 million vaccines have been delivered across the UK.
This includes more than 32 million first doses and 7.6 million second doses.
The number of first doses being delivered slowed throughout April due to supply constraints.
And the NHS has used the supply it has to offer those at highest risk their second jab.
In England around 94% of people aged 50 and over are likely to have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
And around 92% of those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable have had their first jab.
But officials have said the offer of a jab is “evergreen” and people who are yet to receive their first vaccine and are eligible to do so are still being encouraged to book into their local vaccination site.
Phase two of the programme will see the vaccine offered to younger healthy adults, most likely starting with those aged 40 to 49.
Regulators in the UK recommended that people aged 18 to 29 should be offered alternatives to the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying there is a possible link between the jab and “extremely rare” blood clots.
This means they could be offered the Pfizer or Moderna jab.
Public Health England released operational details about the Moderna jab on Monday, including information on the dose, the interval between first and second jab, the storage temperature and whether people who receive the jab will need to be observed afterwards.
The jab needs to be stored at minus 25C to minus 15C, and once it has been thawed it can be stored at 2C to 8C for up to 30 days.
The minimum interval between first and second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days.
And patients who receive the Moderna jab will need to wait at the vaccination centre and be observed for a period of 15 minutes after they receive the vaccine.