GP practices with patients cancelling their Covid-19 jab due to blood clot fears should fill the slots with patients from the vaccine programme’s first nine priority groups, NHS England has said.
The NHS advice to fill DNA appointments with phase one patients comes despite the second part of the programme launching earlier this week, with patients aged 45-49 being invited to book jabs.
Last week the Government said under-30s should be offered an alternative Covid vaccine to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab after establishing an ‘extremely rare’ blood clot risk, with GPs warning patients were declining appointments.
New NHS England FAQ advice on the AZ vaccine and blood clots published yesterday said: ‘Providers should contact people on their reserve list for cohorts 1-9 who are 30 or over if they have cancellations and DNAs.’
Meanwhile, NHS England said under-30s in phase one of the programme who have not yet had their first vaccine dose should be rebooked into clinics offering the Pfizer jab ‘over the coming few weeks’.
It comes as Pulse revealed last week that GP sites were not due to get any new first-dose vaccine deliveries at all over the next fortnight.
Patients in phase one who are under 30 should be ‘offered the opportunity to be contacted at short notice when sites may have excess Pfizer vaccine from second dose clinics’, the FAQs added.
Practices not signed up to deliver the Covid vaccination service are still expected to have conversations about the risks and benefits of the AZ vaccine with patients under 30 who approach them, NHS England said.
The NHS England FAQ document said: ‘If you are contacted by a patient under 30, who is eligible for a vaccine in cohorts 1-9, about the AstraZeneca vaccine, you should ensure individual risk versus benefit conversations are made available.’
It added: ‘You should direct your patient to the appropriate local vaccination site for subsequent vaccination.’
Following the Government’s advice on offering an alternative to the AZ vaccine, all scheduled appointments for under-30s were last week cancelled while patients were urged to discuss their vaccination with their GP.
This week the MHRA has clarified its guidance for healthcare professionals on potential blood clots to state that patients need to see clinicians if their headache began four or more days after having the AZ vaccine.
Meanwhile, a new study from Oxford University suggests the risk of cerebral venous thrombosis is several times higher after Covid-19 infection than after vaccination.