The Deputy Chief Medical Officer said the rollout would take “months, not weeks”, meaning it is essential to continue following the new tier system rules.
Professor Van-Tam said: “Nobody wants lockdown. But if you want that dream to come true as quickly as it can come true, then you have to take the vaccine when it is offered to you.”
The Armed Forces and NHS have begun urgent preperations for the centres have have been told they should be completed within a fortnight, according to sources.
Military personnel have been ordered to transform about 10 sites into vaccine hubs, including the Nightingale hospital at the London ExCel centre, Epsom racecourse, in Surrey, and Bristol’s Ashton Gate football stadium and Robertson House conference facility in Stevenage will serve the capital and south of England, according to sources.
Derby City Council leaders also confirmed the local authority is finalising arrangements for Derby Arena to be used as a vaccination centre.
Other locations being considered as possible venues include: The Black Country Living Museum, Millennium Point, parts of Malvern’s Three Counties’ Showground in Worcestershire and the Villa Park site, home of Aston Villa FC in the West Midlands, and Leicester racecourse in the East Midlands.
A mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations is also expected to start on December 9 in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
The vaccine will then also be rolled out to GPs and pharmacists that have the capacity to store the vaccine at the -70C it needs to stay effective.
In the response to criticism that the temperature of the vaccine would make it difficult to be issued around care homes, Professor Van-Tam argued that it was “extremely unfair when one considers a new virus emerged less than 12 months ago and we now have our first vaccine”.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer continued: “This is a complex product. It is not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in several times.”
Jeane Freeman said talks held on December 3 had confirmed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours, and can also be broken down into smaller packs in “certain conditions”.
Ms Freeman said this makes the vaccine “more useable with minimum wastage for care home residents and our older citizens”.
The National Care Forum said the only viable solution for care home residents is to get the jabs “over the threshold”.
A spokeswoman said: “It seems that the Scottish Government has come to a different conclusion and in fact intends to honour the prioritisation outlined by the JCVI and deliver the vaccine directly to Scottish care homes.
“It is not at all clear at this moment why the English Government is not pursuing this path.”
The NHS has been preparing for a mass vaccination programme for several weeks and could have up to 1,500 GP practices and drive-through centres ordered to open from 8am to 8pm every day, each dispensing at least 1,000 jabs a week.
Under the current plans, local clusters of about five practices covering approximately 50,000 patients, known as Primary Care Networks, will combine to organise vaccine delivery and the health service is hoping to immunise one million people per week.
However any potential rollout will be limited by the speed of manufacture in Belgium, with plans to distribute “as rapidly as company can manufacture”.