GPs have been asked to ‘focus their efforts’ on inviting 16-64s in at-risk clinical groups for their Covid vaccination over the coming two weeks from Monday.
A message shared with GP sites by NHS England’s Covid Vaccination Programme (CVP) team said: ‘as PCN-led sites focus on cohort 6, cohort 5 (those aged 65-70) will shortly start receiving an invitation from the national booking service (NBS) to attend a vaccination centre or community pharmacy setting.’
Cohort 6 includes 16-64s with underlying health conditions which make them more vulnerable to serious illness from Covid-19, as well as carers and young adults in residential settings.
NHS England said this was ‘because of the relationship between general practice and those with long term conditions, and continuity of care’.
It also said of the new invitation strategy that it ‘avoids some of the duplication of messaging we have seen over the past few weeks’.
And it added it would ‘shortly’ share ‘more detail’ on cohort six and the individuals in the group.
PCN sites ‘may still vaccinate patients in [cohort five] should a patient request an appointment for reasons including preference and accessibility’, the message added.
GPs have warned that NHS England’s approach up until now, of offering patients a choice of getting vaccinated at a local GP or mass vaccination site, was ‘unnecessary duplication’ which had caused ‘confusion’ for patients.
It also comes as the Government has asked outstanding patients in the JCVI-defined priority cohorts 1-4 to contact the NHS to get their jab this week. GPs have also been asked to reach out to remaining unvaccinated patients, in a bid to meet the Government’s commitment of vaccinating everyone in the cohorts by 15 February.
GPs were also informed of the new strategy for the next two priority cohorts in a webinar held by NHS England last night.
A slide presented to GPs contained the additional info that NHS England recognises that GP sites may have to make offers to some in cohort 5 this week – whilst the focus remains on priority groups 1-4 – ‘to ensure all Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are used without wastage’.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC chair at the BMA, said: ‘GPs and their teams have been working incredibly hard on the vaccine rollout so far and have now been advised to focus on inviting cohort six of patients for vaccination from next week.
‘We understand that cohort five will be invited to attend a vaccination centre from the national booking service, although practice-led vaccination sites may still vaccinate people in this category if a patient prefers.
‘It’s important that these two systems work in unison, and that GPs continue to be supported so that they can administer vaccines to patients quickly and effectively. It’s also vital, as we look to later in the programme, that practices remain front and centre of this rollout, having already delivered the vast majority of vaccinations across the country.’
GPs have told Pulse they are concerned vaccine supply issues will hold them back from moving into the next cohorts. The Public Accounts Committee also raised concerns about the ‘stop-start’ nature of the programme, in a report published today.
NHS England declined a Pulse request for comment.
In full: Priority groups for Covid vaccination
- residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
- all those 75 years of age and over
- all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- all those 65 years of age and over
- all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- all those 60 years of age and over
- all those 55 years of age and over
- all those 50 years of age and over