The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to extend vaccination regulations adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said it wanted to provide ‘greater flexibilities for the movement and supply of certain type of vaccines’.
It comes as a new strategy that will shape the future of vaccination delivery is expected to be published by the end of the year.
And as the Government has decided to cut the fee GPs are paid per Covid vaccination by a quarter, prompting BMA to issue a patient safety warning.
Ministers want to extend the regulations until 1 April 2026 to support the supply, distribution and administration of Covid and flu vaccines as the country transitions out of the pandemic.
These regulations have:
- enabled trained healthcare professionals to conduct the final stage of assembly, preparation, and labelling of Covid vaccines without additional marketing authorisations or manufacturer’s licences being required;
- allowed Covid and flu vaccines to be moved between premises at the end of the supply chain, by providers operating under NHS arrangements and the medical services of His Majesty’s Forces, that do not hold wholesale dealer licences;
- enabled the use of an extended workforce who are legally and safely able to administer a Covid or flu vaccine without the input of a prescriber, using an approved protocol.
The Government said that the proposals outlined in this consultation ‘aim to maximise patient and public health benefits’ of these vaccines by ensuring their widespread availability, and that patient safety is ‘at the heart of any public health vaccination programme’.
The consultation said: ‘The Covid and influenza vaccination programmes have saved tens of thousands of lives across the UK.
‘It is important that we continue to ensure the most vulnerable are protected through a targeted vaccination offer for those most at risk.
‘As part of the response to the Covid pandemic, amendments to the HMRs were laid in Parliament on 16 October 2020 to provide regulatory flexibility to support the rollout of the Covid vaccination campaign and upscale the influenza vaccination programme in the UK, while protecting public safety.’
NHS England is working on aligning payments for flu and Covid vaccinations paid to GP practices but will not achieve this goal before 2025/26 at the earliest. As it stands, NHS England flu vaccination payments are made directly to GP practices while Covid vaccination payments are made to PCNs.
Meanwhile, Government plans for a ‘national vaccination service’ were first revealed in January last year, when then health secretary Sajid Javid told MPs it was needed to ensure GPs are not asked to stop routine care again, as they did during the Covid vaccination programme.