GP practices should deliver a maximum of 75% of Covid booster vaccines, according to new NHS England guidance.
Commissioners have been asked to ‘prudently plan’ for the programme, with a ‘minimum’ of 40% of jabs to be delivered by GP-led sites, it said.
And local systems have been told to plan to co-administer flu and Covid vaccines in a single appointment by ‘pooling’ GP practice flu stock, while GPs are expected to carry out health checks during the appointments, it added.
The letter follows the JCVI’s advice yesterday that the Covid booster programme should start in September and will take place in two stages.
The guidance, published today, said that the programme should take place between 6 September and 17 December 2021, but will remain flexible, based on ‘several clinical trials over the course of the summer’.
It is ‘actively encouraging’ co-administration of the Covid and flu vaccines, including in general practice-led centres.
‘Although general practice delivered the majority of vaccines in phase one, spreading capacity across all delivery models will provide resilience and ease pressure on other services and workforces.
‘For most areas it may be hard for general practice to deliver more than around 75% of vaccinations, based on learnings from phase one.’
It added: ‘In the majority of cases, local systems should therefore prudently plan for a minimum of 40% of Covid-19 booster vaccination through general practice and a maximum of 75%, drawing on the expertise of local authorities and subject to any agreement with local PCNs.’
An additional 1,000 community pharmacy sites will be onboarded ‘in the run-up to September to support phase three delivery’, it said.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: ‘Given the achievements of the first round of vaccinations, it makes no sense for NHS England to suggest limiting the proportion of vaccines delivered locally by practice sites – and we’d be concerned that this will be interpreted as a cap on general practice’s involvement in the programme, and placing barriers in the way of patients being vaccinated by their local, trusted surgery team.
‘On the one hand the letter proposes a “pull” model in which sites can request supplies to meet their communities’ needs – something we have persistently called for – while at the same time suggesting arbitrary limits that take no account of local variations.’
More to follow