GP practices have been given less than a week to run local searches to identify any children aged 12-15 who are eligible for Covid vaccination.
This applies both to practices who are signed up to deliver the jabs and to those who are not, NHS England said.
Meanwhile, practices vaccinating this group will be paid a £10 supplement in addition to the £12.58 item of service fee, it added.
And earlier this month, NHS England instructed practices to begin vaccinating eligible children against Covid, a week after some practices had to cancel initial bookings.
In a letter sent to GPs on Friday, NHS England said all GP practices must identify eligible patients aged 12-15 by 19 August so they can be vaccinated ‘before the school term starts in September’.
It added that since it is ‘not currently possible’ to identify patients in the group nationally, practices must run local searches that would be made available by IT system suppliers by close of play on 14 August.
EMIS, Vision and SystmOne have all confirmed to Pulse that the searches are now in place across their GP IT systems.
NHS England’s letter said: ‘Overall, the number of people in this cohort is low and we have sought to minimise the associated work for practices.’
PCN groupings that have opted to vaccinate eligible 12-15s must invite them to book an appointment by 23 August while those that have opted out must share a list of eligible patients with their local commissioner by 19 August so they can be offered a jab elsewhere, it added.
Practices approached by parents of children at increased risk should consider whether the child is eligible using their clinical judgement and trusts may also refer 12-15s they consider eligible for vaccination, NHS England said.
GPs should also write to any patients on their list who are ‘severely immunosuppressed’ to advise them that any 12-15-year-old household contacts are now eligible for a Covid jab, it added.
The letter also said that practices can claim a £10 supplementary fee per vaccination dose delivered to eligible 12-15s, as well as the £12.58 item of service fee.
Point of care systems will be updated to include the supplementary payment and ‘additional consent options to support the vaccination of children’ and vaccination sites should record the vaccinations as administered to a housebound patient in the meantime, it added.
An accompanying set of frequently asked questions, also published on Friday, said:
- PCN groupings are the ‘main providers’ of Covid jabs to vulnerable 12-15s, who can also be vaccinated by hospital hubs
- GPs and hospital hubs should ‘prioritise’ vaccinating eligible 12-15-year-olds so they receive their first vaccination ‘before the start of the new school year’
- Eligible 12-15s cannot be vaccinated at a pop-up or roving site ‘unless they have received an information leaflet prior to the date’ of their jab
- GP- and hospital-led sites are also the only sites eligible to vaccinate children who are household contacts of the immunosuppresed
- Sites can request additional supplies of Pfizer vaccine if needed to vaccinate eligible children up to six days before the beginning of each week
- PCN groupings delivering Covid jabs to eligible 12-15s and 16-17s under the updated enhanced service are covered by the CNSGP indemnity arrangements.
It reiterated that second doses for healthy 16-17-year-olds – who are to be offered their first jab by 23 August – are pending further JCVI advice, but that a second dose ‘is anticipated to be offered later to increase the level of protection and contribute towards longer-term protection’.
Children aged 12-15 eligible for the vaccine include those with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people in this age group who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed.
Vulnerable 16-17-year-olds were already targeted earlier on in the vaccination campaign.
The vaccines minister previously revealed that the Government has ordered additional doses of the Pfizer jab to vaccinate more than 370,000 children against Covid.
Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only Covid jab authorised by the MHRA for use in teenagers in the UK.