GPs may be able to extract an additional dose from vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, NHS England guidance has revealed.
It follows similar guidance on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December – with GPs able to get a sixth dose out of its five-dose vials in some cases.
A new patient group direction (PGD) for delivery of the recently-approved Oxford vaccine, published yesterday, revealed that the vaccine would come in 10-dose vials of 5ml and 8-dose vials of 4ml.
The document, which is valid from yesterday until January 2022, added: ‘Each vial contains at least the number of doses stated. It is normal for liquid to remain in the vial after withdrawing the final dose.
‘When low dead volume syringes and/or needles are used, the amount remaining in the vial may be sufficient for an additional dose.’
However, it said that ‘care should be taken’ to ensure a full 0.5ml dose can be administered and the leftover liquid discarded if this is not possible.
The PGD also said that patients under 18 should be excluded from receiving the Oxford vaccine, although the JCVI’s priority groups include high-risk individuals with underlying health conditions aged 16-64.
It said: ‘Only individuals aged 18 years and over and included in one or more of the priority groups tabled above may be vaccinated in accordance with this PGD.’
However, while the Oxford vaccine is only authorised for use in the over 18s, the Pfizer vaccine ‘may be a suitable alternative for those 16-17 years of age’, the document added.
It comes as the JCVI has updated its guidance on priority groups for the vaccine to say that the Pfizer vaccine is now authorised for patients aged 16-17.
An update published yesterday said: ‘The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorised in those aged 16 years and over. The AstraZeneca vaccine is only authorised for use in those aged 18 years and over.’
Previous guidance said that while the Oxford vaccine was not authorised for use in the under 18s, it could be given to 16-17 year-olds if no alternative vaccine was available.
It comes as it was revealed that GPs do not need to observe patients for 15 minutes after administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.
The Government set out a plan on Monday to vaccinate the 13.9 million people in the first four JCVI-determined prioritisation groups by the middle of next month.