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GPs to prioritise elderly BAME patients for first Covid-19 vaccine batch

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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.


Peter English 8 December, 2020 2:33 pm

I worry about all of this talk about prioritisation.

We can’t afford to be rigid. There are nearly 1000 doses in a “pizza box” of vaccines, which will have to be used within (originally 5 days – for some reason they’ve reduced this to 3.5 days). If we say “we can only do [this that or the other priority group]”, there’s a real risk that you won’t be able to get enough people in the priority group[s] in to the clinic in the time available. If you aren’t permitted to vaccinate lower priority people, the vaccines will be discarded – a terrible waste.

Patrufini Duffy 8 December, 2020 6:18 pm

Currently most are tentative and will “discuss it with their family, and get back to you”…or not. UK Gov blindly taking GPs with them on this one.

Helen Douse 8 December, 2020 6:24 pm

and we’ve enough trouble trying to phone 300 people in the right age group over the next 24 hrs with limited staff trying to also do the day job- we don’t necessarily know the ethnicity of every patient on our 14000 list and even if we do its takes more searches- if they really wanted to prioritize maybe they shouldn’t have sent it to us as first wave but to areas with more BAME elderly…does feel like there are far too many cooks micromanaging and changing their minds every 5 mins

Decorum Est 9 December, 2020 1:25 am

I love good soup. Simple to make.
Get a caucus/cacophony of managers who don’t know a saucepan, a vegetable or any idea of how to cook and you’ll get something ‘Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment…’