GPs can choose to vaccinate patients in JCVI cohorts 5 and 7 against Covid – which include anyone aged over 60 – while continuing to prioritise cohort 6, the BMA has said.
GPs have been asked by NHS England to ‘focus’ on vaccinating cohort 6, which includes 16-64s in at-risk clinical groups, carers and young adults in residential settings.
Meanwhile cohort 5 and 7 patients – over 65s and over 60s – have been invited directly by NHS England to mass vaccination centres and pharmacies.
In an update sent last week (26 February), the GPC said GP-led sites vaccinating patients in cohort 5 or 7 ‘will receive payment’, but added they should wait until they have reached the ‘appropriate position’ of having completed cohort 6.
Patients in cohort 5 and, this week, 7 have been receiving letters from the national booking system inviting them for a Covid jab at vaccination centres and pharmacies.
However, the letters have also mentioned that they may wait to be contacted by their practice if they wish to be vaccinated by their GP.
The GPC bulletin said: ‘If practices vaccinate anyone in cohort 5 they will receive payment.
‘However the priority for practices should be those in cohort 6, which is a much bigger group, but once practices are in an appropriate position having completed cohort 6 they could contact patients in cohort 5 to invite them for their vaccination if they have not already received it.’
It said that ‘the same points with respect to cohort 5 apply to 7’.
It added that practices may wish to contact patients in cohorts 5 and 7 to inform them they will receive a GP invitation in the near future, and can be vaccinated locally if that is their preference. This could help manage patient expectation and prevent additional queries, it said.
In a letter this week, NHS England asked all systems to ‘redouble efforts’ to ensure all eligible patients and frontline health and social care workers are offered a vaccination, adding that local vaccination plans should encourage uptake through any of the vaccination sites.