The Government should prioritise GP hubs for limited Covid vaccine supplies, rather than having vulnerable elderly travel to mass vaccination centres, the BMA has suggested.
Commenting on the news that 2.2 million people have now been vaccinated in the UK, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said it was ‘vital’ that the vaccination programme is ‘rapidly accelerated and supplies keep up with demand’.
The Government’s vaccination plan, set out yesterday, said everyone in England will be ‘within 10 miles’ of a vaccination centre, except for a small number of rural areas which will be served by ‘roving’ GP teams.
But the BMA said GPs need urgent clarity on how these will ‘work alongside practices’.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘While the opening of mass vaccination centres have been announced, vulnerable, often elderly, patients should not be expected to travel up to 45 minutes to get their jabs when their local GP surgery or community vaccination site stands ready to immunise them, close to home.’
As the first seven mass vaccination centres opened this week, NHS England said invitations have been sent to over-80s who have not yet been vaccinated.
An NHS England primary care bulletin sent on Sunday said: ‘Letters have been sent to people aged 80 or over who have not yet received a vaccination and live 30 to 45 minutes drive from one of the seven new sites and explain how they can book a slot – over the phone or online through the national booking service.’
NHS England said the letter explains to patients that they don’t need to take any action if they have already been invited by their GP, but it admitted that ‘overlaps’ may occur.
But Dr Nagpaul said: ‘GPs are working incredibly hard to vaccinate their communities, but basic logistics and simple messaging for patients are key to this. This is why we need urgent clarity on how these mass vaccination centres will work alongside practices – as well as reassurance that supply will keep up with demand across these different services.’
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.
This will include 1,200 local vaccination sites, such as GP and community pharmacy services, alongside 206 hospital hubs and 50 vaccination centres.