GPs will help deliver ‘at least’ two million vaccines a week in England by the end of January, according to the Government’s vaccine delivery plan.
The new Covid-19 UK Vaccines Delivery Plan, published today, said this will be achieved by establishing over 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK, with almost 1,500 in England.
This will include 1,200 local vaccination sites, such as GP and community pharmacy services, alongside 206 hospital hubs and 50 vaccination centres.
Everyone in England will be ‘within 10 miles’ of a vaccination site except for a ‘small number of highly rural areas’ where the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams, the Government said.
GP-led roving vaccination teams, currently visiting care homes, will deliver vaccines to prisons and ‘could be extended’ to vaccinating people who are homeless, those in residential facilities for learning disabilities or autism, those escaping abuse in refuges and ‘communities with lower vaccination rates’.
Individual sites will ‘typically’ only deliver one type of vaccine type per day, although the different types will be used ‘across the delivery models’.
The plan said: ‘In England, by the end of January, our capacity to vaccinate several hundred thousand a day and at least 2 million people per week will be achieved.
‘All parts of the healthcare system will be mobilised so that we can vaccinate the highest risk individuals as rapidly as possible. The network will continue to expand and evolve as we progress the deployment in the months ahead.’
While different parts of the UK will have slightly different models, all four countries will include mobile teams to visit care homes, large sites at hospitals, and primary care-based delivery, said the plan.
The network of sites has been ‘designed to fit the expected vaccine supply’, it added.
The plan also promises there will be ‘enough supply’ to make sure the second dose a patient receives is the same type of vaccine as the first dose – although guidance states they can be interchanged as a last resort.
GPs and primary care colleagues will ‘play a crucial role in identifying and inviting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable’ to be vaccinated, the document added.
It also said: ‘At the start of February, data from the National Booking Service will be combined and cross-referenced with GP records to identify any individuals who have not been invited.’
The plan also said 80,000 people have so far been recruited and are ‘ready to be deployed’ for delivering the vaccine, after over 200,000 expressed an interest in signing up.
However, it said that not everyone who has volunteered will be deployed immediately.
The document suggested airline cabin crew could be mobilised to support the vaccine effort alongside NHS returners, St John’s Ambulance volunteers and independent nurses and occupational health service providers.
A range of non-clinical support staff will also take part in the programme to in roles relating to admin support, logistics, stewarding and first aid.
‘Additional resource’ will be made available to support primary care teams ‘through the national contract’, said the plan, although the details of this remain unclear.
Meanwhile, the document reveals NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani is jointly leading a dedicated team to ‘support effective communication with BAME staff’ in light of the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
The document reiterated the Government is ‘on track’ to offer the first dose of vaccine to everyone in the first four priority groups set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) by the middle of February.
The Government has ‘never felt more confident’ it can achieve its ‘ambitious goals’, it added.
It comes as the health secretary has promised that all adults in the UK will be offered the Covid vaccine by the autumn.
Last week, he pledged that all GPs and their staff will be vaccinated by 15 February – and hopefully ‘sooner’.