Vulnerable GPs and practice staff should now be prioritised for Covid vaccination, NHS England has said.
The vaccination programme should be ‘immediately expanded’ to frontline healthcare workers, it added.
It comes as GPs are to start delivering the ‘bulk’ of existing Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses from this week – after its launch in hospitals today – following MHRA authorisation for the vaccine’s use in the UK.
In an email bulletin sent to practices last week, NHS England said that all GPs and practice staff ‘falling into the JCVI priority cohort’ must have access to the vaccine.
It said: ‘Local systems should be working to ensure that all healthcare workers falling into the JCVI priority cohort, including those in primary care, are able to access the vaccine from a local vaccination site or hospital hub as appropriate.’
A letter also sent to practices last week added that Covid vaccination can ‘now be immediately expanded to frontline health and social care workers’ thanks to ‘increased supply’.
It said that the JCVI recommends that priority should be given to frontline staff ‘at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment’.
Local vaccination services and trust HR directors will be ‘responsible for overseeing’ staff vaccinations and operational guidance based on the staff flu vaccination model will be published ‘shortly’, NHS England added.
It reiterated that prioritisation should be based on risk assessments that should have been carried out ‘throughout the pandemic to identify such individuals’.
In early December, GP sites administering the Covid vaccine were told to give any leftover jabs to staff members who have been identified to be most at risk.
However, the BMA later called for more equal access to vaccination for doctors working on the frontline amid reports hospital admin staff is being prioritised ahead of patient-facing GPs.