GPs have been instructed to prioritise patients from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in their first over-80s Covid-19 vaccination cohorts.
Details outlined in a letter sent yesterday from NHS England advise that GP practices must select and contact priority vaccination patients by tomorrow (9 December).
GP sites selected to begin vaccinations next week, of which there are expected to be around 280, will each receive one batch of 975 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
If a Primary Care Network (PCN) designated site has more than 975 patients over 80 years of age, they must prioritise based on comorbidities and ethnicity.
GP surgeries will be responsible for generating patient lists based on this new priority cohort definition.
NHS England’s letter, from primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and primary care contracts lead Ed Waller, confirmed that designated PCN sites will begin administering jabs on 15 and 16 December, following a vaccine delivery the previous day.
The advice to prioritise the BAME community, within the first over-80s cohort, is based on an independent report from Public Health England in which the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) outlines vaccination priority groups.
The PHE report states that ‘there is clear evidence that certain [BAME] groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease, morbidity and mortality’ as a result of Covid-19 infection.
PHE maintains that there is ‘no strong evidence’ that ethnicity alone is the reason for the observed higher rates of severe illness and death from Covid-19 within the BAME community. The advice is linked to the observation that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of severe disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain BAME groups.
The report continues: ‘Good vaccine coverage in BAME groups will be the most important factor within a vaccine programme in reducing inequalities for this group.’
GP surgeries will need to contact priority cohorts and book each patient two appointments, one for each dose. The second dose will follow three weeks after the first dose.
It comes as last week, the RCGP questioned why the BAME community were not being prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
This in turn following PHE’s admission in June that the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare ‘humbling’ inequalities.
Its rapid review, carried out during May of this year, found that BAME people had a higher Covid-19 risk in the UK, with people of Bangladeshi origin being at highest risk of death and black people most likely to be diagnosed.