The Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the UK has 100,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine available from Monday.
Vaccination centres will now start inviting patients to come and get the jab from next week.
Priority groups for immunisation have already been identified, starting with care home residents, the over-80s, and health and care workers.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised two full doses of the Oxford vaccine, with the second dose to be given 4 to 12 weeks after the first.
The Oxford vaccine is easier to store and distribute, as it can be kept at normal fridge temperature unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jab that has to be kept at -70C.
There is also more confidence about supply as it is UK-made, whereas the Pfizer-BioNTech jab has to be shipped in from Belgium.
No announcement has been made on whether one might be given priority over another as they become ready on a mass scale.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA led a briefing to discuss the latest vaccine saying “no corners have been cut” in assessing the safety and effectiveness of the jab.
The MHRA has also said breastfeeding and pregnant women can have the vaccine as the benefits outweigh the risks.
Reacting to the announcement the Prime Minister tweeted,
“It is truly fantastic news – and a triumph for British science – that the UniofOxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use. We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible”
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group:
‘The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment. Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon as possible.’