The Covid vaccination set to be delivered by GP practices will come in vials of 1,000 doses which may have to be administered within five days of being defrosted, Pulse understands.
It comes as Pulse revealed that GPs will be paid £12.58 per Covid vaccination jab administered – making the campaign ‘cost neutral’ – as details are due today about the DES at the heart of the campaign.
Practices taking part should prepare for a 1 December start, although the actual start date depends on when the MHRA can approve a vaccine.
Both vaccine options in the running for rollout – once efficacy is confirmed and MHRA approval is gained – will be delivered in two doses.
One of these vaccines must be kept at -70C and Pulse understands that once defrosted, the 1,000 doses must be drawn from vials, mixed with saline and delivered within five days.
Earlier this week, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens acknowledged the ‘logistical challenges’ the vaccine programme will pose for GPs.
However, he suggested that the vaccine would have to be kept at -70C right up until administration to the patient.
Speaking in a press conference, he said: ‘Different vaccines will have different ways of working, and actually will pose different types of logistical challenge.
‘Some of the vaccines require what’s called a cold chain, where they have to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius or below, all the way through to actually getting into the arm of the patient.’
GPs have already expressed concerns, such as how practices are supposed to facilitate such extreme freezing conditions.
In a draft Covid-19 vaccination enhanced service document seen by Pulse, NHS England said: ‘Practices will need to deliver a minimum of 975 vaccinations over a seven-day period from each designated site, ensuring all those vaccinations are administered within the appropriate shelf life.
‘On a regular basis, e.g. each week, they will need to agree the number of batches of 975 they will deliver, working closely with their local NHS coordination centre.’
It added: ‘Due to the likelihood of challenging vaccine characteristics and complex logistics in this new supply chain, where a practice agrees to participate in this enhanced service, it will need to work collaboratively with other practices to deliver vaccinations initially.
‘It will not be possible to supply vaccine to most or all practices individually.’
Practices that apply to take part will be assessed by their CCG on whether the nominated site meets a set of ‘specified criteria’, the draft document said.
This will include ‘vaccine storage, planning and co-ordination, site safety, vaccine wastage, space, workforce, patient experience, vaccine storage and handling, preparation, administration, aftercare, data collection and reporting’, it added.
Meanwhile, all staff involved in administering the jabs will need to complete training which is to be provided online by Public Health England (PHE) or Health Education England (HEE), NHS England said.
Vaccines pre-procured by the UK Government are already being manufactured, with the NHS set to be able to start administering them as soon as they are approved for use, the chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce told MPs and Lords on Wednesday.
This includes four million doses of the UK leading vaccine candidate, and 10m doses of a vaccine being developed in the US, which should be ready to go ‘by the end of the year’.
However, UK Vaccine Taskforce chair Kate Bingham said earlier this week that it is likely we will have ‘more vaccines than we’re going to be able to deploy’.
Last night, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the timescales are ‘very challenging’, but that GPs are ‘absolutely the right people’ to lead the programme.
Pulse exclusively revealed on Tuesday of this week that a Covid vaccination DES was being discussed for a December rollout – making a splash across the UK media landscape.