NHS England has urged practices to help identify immunosuppressed and housebound patients who are eligible for a spring Covid booster but have not yet received one.
NHS England director of operations and delivery for the Covid vaccination programme Caroline Temmink said this is because ‘uptake isn’t as high and there’s more work for us to do’ among these two groups compared with other eligible cohorts.
Speaking at an NHS England GP webinar this week, she said that NHS England is ‘hearing feedback’ from charities that ‘there are still [immunosuppressed] individuals who just aren’t aware that they are eligible’.
Ms Temmink told GPs: ‘Even if you’re not vaccinating, we ask for your support in making sure this vulnerable group can access the vaccination.’
On eligible housebound patients – those who are aged over 75 or immunosuppressed – she added that NHS England ‘[does] still hear of instances where people are struggling to obtain a vaccination’.
She said: ‘Whether you’re vaccinating or not, it’s really important that all GP practices are aware who is eligible for a spring booster because you are in a prime place to help identify these.’
Those who are not offering Covid vaccinations should direct patients to the national booking service, the online walk-in finder or to call 119, she added.
Around half (51%) of those eligible have so far received spring boosters, with 2.8 million vaccinated out of around 5.5 million who ‘will be eligible for this dose by the end of June’, NHS England said this week.
More than three million people have been invited since the programme launched six weeks ago, while another 230,000 are due to be invited this week, it added. Over 712,000 reminders have also been sent by the NHS.
But Ms Temmink revealed in the webinar that some practices are experiencing ‘challenges’ knowing what vaccine supplies will arrive.
She said: ‘We are listening [and] we are looking to make sure that we make those processes as transparent as possible and that sites can see visibility of their supply for the coming weeks as early as they possibly can.’
Last month, the BMA called for new Covid restrictions as it was revealed that around half of those invited to take up spring Covid boosters had accepted the offer and received a jab.
The Government announced in February that over-75s, care home residents and over-12s who are immunosuppressed will receive an additional Covid booster jab from spring, following new JCVI advice.