GP-led vaccination sites can now transport Pfizer Covid vaccines away from their main site to help increase uptake, NHS England has said.
At the time, NHS England said the change will give vaccination sites more time to use the vaccine, minimise wasted stock and make it ‘easier’ to both align vaccine clinics with deliveries and plan pop-up vaccination services.
New NHS England guidance published over the weekend and updated yesterday says that the Pfizer vaccine can now be used for certain alternative vaccination sites set up to ‘improve access and maximise vaccine uptake’.
The document said that the undiluted Pfizer jab can be moved if the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is either ‘not suitable’ for patients or ‘not available’.
However, various restrictions remain on the vaccine’s movement:
- It should only make two journeys of up to six hours each or one journey of up to 12 hours after being defrosted – including delivery to the main site
- Reconstituted vaccine should be ‘carried by hand where possible to avoid shaking’ and then drawn up ‘next to the patient’
- It can only be moved once to a ‘static’ site and cannot be returned to the main site if unused
The document said the Pfizer jab is ‘not advised’ for drive-through models due to being very ‘fragile’ and cannot be used for ‘roving’ models such as vaccination buses, although it can be used for a mobile site at an alternative location.
The Moderna vaccine – which is not being prioritised for use in general practice at the moment – is also not suitable for any alternative delivery models, it added.
The AstraZeneca vaccine remains suitable for all models and can be returned to the base site at the end of the day in certain circumstances, the guidance said.
The Pfizer Covid vaccine was the first to be authorised for use in the UK but was initially only rolled out in hospitals due to logistical challenges with its storage and handling.
Practices were first asked to consider setting up alternative vaccine clinics to boost uptake in March, although at the time the AstraZeneca vaccine was the only suitable vaccine for deployment in these settings.
Meanwhile, it was announced last month that practices should offer patients under 40 an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine amid blood clot fears.