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18th March 2021

GP Update: COVID-19 Vaccination (Last update: 18.03.21)

The Government's Vaccines Task Force has announced that there will be a significant reduction in the weekly vaccine supplies available from manufacturers from the week commencing 29 March, which means the volumes for first doses will be significantly limited. They currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.

The key points to note in the letter from NHSE&I are:

  • National booking has just been opened to everyone aged 50 and over
  • Vaccine priority must be given to cohorts 1-9 (all those 50 years of age and over and all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions)
  • Vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services should close unfilled bookings from the week commencing 29 March
  • No further appointments are to be uploaded to the National Booking System or Local Booking Systems from 1 to 30 April
  • There will be a significant increase in the required number of second doses, which double from the beginning of April
  • The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be available as planned
  • NHSE&I will give out the vaccine allocations 4 weeks in advance from next week, so that clinics can be booked up to 4 weeks ahead to offer and re-offer vaccinations to those in Cohorts 1 to 9
  • Renew the efforts of working with local authorities, the voluntary, community and faith sectors and other local partners to ensure maximum cohort uptake
  • Increase the opportunities for people to have the vaccine in areas with lower uptake rates
  • Consider providing temporary mobile vaccination clinics and ‘pop up centres’ in places of worship and other community settings where those from eligible cohorts who have not presented at fixed vaccination sites may feel more welcome
  • Extend the number of visits to housebound patients, and schedule second or third care home visits to maximise the uptake in those at greatest risk
  • Inviting patients outside of cohorts 1– 9 is only permissible in exceptional circumstances
  • Those aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccination unless they are eligible via a higher cohort because they are e.g. clinically vulnerable, an unpaid carer or frontline health and care worker
  • Continue to follow the green book guidance about the vaccination schedule, but it’s better to give the second dose after 84 days rather than not at all
  • Please don’t waste vaccines
  • The revised vaccine supply is likely to result in a reduction in workforce demand in hospital hubs and vaccination centres
  • Plan now how to deploy staff to alternative settings to support increased cohort uptake
  • Vaccination services must:
    1. Prioritise all short-life stock up to the week 29 March for use
    2. Work with local authorities, voluntary community and faith sector organisations, to put in place reserve lists of people from eligible cohorts
    3. Consider mutual aid between sites within the system, targeting areas of lower uptake
    4. Declare excess long-life stock to regional leads where Cohorts 1 to 9 have been exhausted to enable allocations to be adjusted accordingly

GP Enhanced Service specification for cohorts 10, 11 and 12

The deadline to opt in or opt out of signing up to the GP Enhanced Service specification for cohorts 10, 11 and 12 is Friday 19 March. Vaccination of those in phase 2 will begin eventually and the vaccine will be offered to cohort 10 at some point, but the contract needs to be in place ready to start.

In terms of guidance beyond April and the vaccine supply situation, NHSE&I have tried to forecast the situation as much as possible, but things may still change. They are receiving daily updates from the manufacturers, have built in a supply for the second doses and hope to receive additional supplies at the end of April.

Planning work is going on now for a winter revaccination programme, and NHSE&I will follow guidance from the JCVI. However, it is not yet clear what that might look like and, with the flu programme, there could be new variants of the virus and new vaccines available, so there are lots of uncertainties still about re-vaccination.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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