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GP practices can store defrosted Covid vaccine in fridges, NHSE suggests

GP practices can store defrosted Covid vaccine in fridges, NHSE suggests

NHS England has suggested that GP practices administering Covid vaccinations will not need access to freezer capacity to store vaccine stock.

The news comes amid logistical concerns around Pfizer’s vaccine – of which the UK Government has bought 40m doses – requiring ultra-low storage temperatures of below -70C.

However NHS England’s DES specification, published yesterday, only states that practices must have fridge capacity to store vaccine at +2-8C, suggesting they may not have to store the vaccine while it remains frozen.

The guidance said the designated site from which vaccines will be administered must have ‘fridge space to store (2-8c) or confirmed plans to have fridge capacity in place no later than 1 December’.

It must also have ‘capacity to administer minimum of 975 doses per week (or greater in accordance with minimum ordering requirements for specific vaccines and ensuring all doses are administered within appropriate shelf life)’, it added.

In addition, practices must demonstrate their ‘ability to fully comply with all storage and handling requirements, including maximum allowable time at 2-8C before administration and time between dilution and administration’, the DES specification said.

Last week, Pulse was told that the vaccine may come in vials of around 1,000 doses which may have to be administered within five days of being defrosted.

But NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani confirmed over Twitter that stock will come as ‘975 vaccines per batch not per vial’.

Despite this, the DES specification confirmed that the vaccine will come to GP practices in ‘multidose vials’.

Practices must have the necessary space and trained workforce to prepare the vaccine, including ‘dilution where required, using standard aseptic technique, and drawing up of multidose vials in all cases’, it said.

It remains unclear where frozen vaccines will be stored prior to being delivered to GP practices.

NHS England said further information about vaccine preparation will be outlined ‘once the final vaccine characteristics have been confirmed’.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of the candidates for delivery by GPs under the DES revealed yesterday evening.

Pfizer yesterday reported that its vaccine is 90% effective and the Government announced that the UK will be ‘ready’ to deliver these to ‘one third’ of the population, if it gains approval from the MHRA.

Pulse first revealed details of the programme in a world exclusive last week, including that GPs will be paid £12.85 per Covid vaccination jab administered.

Pulse has also published a Q&A covering everything we know so far about the Covid vaccine DES, which will be updated as further details become clear.


Visit Pulse Reference for details on 140 symptoms, including easily searchable symptoms and categories, offering you a free platform to check symptoms and receive potential diagnoses during consultations.


Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

terry sullivan 10 November, 2020 8:01 pm

say no

Reply moderated
Turn out The lights 10 November, 2020 8:42 pm

Mixed messages from the Moonsh@tters,just say no this has all the hallmarks of an omnishambles.Welcome to the Covid age.

Reply moderated
Patrufini Duffy 10 November, 2020 9:22 pm

As usual, riddled with “musts” in this blurted out, regurgitated projectile DES. Tabloids reaching at fairy tales as usual. Ultimately, if you get it wrong – you’ve got BIG BIG issues. And NHSE aren’t coming to save you or you GMC number when you inject and the patient sues you for not explaining the ENTIRE unknown side effects.
Cqc are wetting themselves over a new cold chain policy and internal freezer thermometer requirement.
Say no. Let unqualified managers and Hanky Panky figure it out.

Reply moderated