This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs facing ‘pressure’ from patients asking for second dose before eight weeks to travel

three months

GPs are facing pressure from patients who want their second Covid jab before eight weeks to go on holiday, NHS England has said.

Earlier this month, the Government announced that the interval between first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be reduced to eight weeks for all adults, in line with certain groups.

But it also announced that from 19 July, when all legal Covid restrictions will be lifted in England, fully-vaccinated individuals will no longer have to self-isolate on return from an ‘amber list’ country.

Speaking in a GP webinar last night, NHS England director of primary care vaccination Caroline Temmink said that this will result in ‘difficult conversations’ for GPs but that they must ‘stick to’ a minimum of eight weeks between doses.

She said: ‘Second doses shouldn’t be given before eight weeks to make sure that we give the maximum benefit to our patients – so it’s the right balance between getting that rapid protection and it being long-lasting.

‘We do know that means there will be some difficult conversations, particularly with some of the information around having two doses and being able to travel, and that actually there is quite a lot of pressure being put on PCNs in terms of having a second dose earlier than that.’

Ms Temmink added that NHS England has produced a ‘suggested script with some key messages and a poster’ to ‘support’ vaccination site staff with these discussions.

A slide presented at the webinar added that this will be followed by a ‘wider resource pack’ next week, including a ‘SAFER model for managing escalating incidents’.

Public Health England’s Green Book, updated this month, said: ‘For both adenovirus vector and mRNA vaccines, there is evidence of better immune response and/or protection where longer intervals between doses are used. 

‘Currently, JCVI is recommending an interval of eight to 12 weeks between doses of all the available Covid-19 vaccines. Operationally, this consistent interval should be used for all two-dose vaccines to avoid confusion and simplify booking, and will help to ensure a good balance between achieving rapid and long-lasting protection.’

It added that the ‘main exception’ to the eight-week interval is those about to commence immunosuppressive treatment, who may be given vaccines at lower intervals to ‘ensure that the vaccine is given whilst their immune system is better able to respond’. 

It comes as the clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 have been advised to ‘consider’ whether contacts are vaccinated before deciding to interact with others.

And new NHS England guidance on the booster programme due to run from September revealed that offering the vaccinations at individual practice level is ‘not operationally feasible’.


David Church 16 July, 2021 10:57 am

Now there’s a thought !
Travel Vaccinations are not GMS, they are a private service, for which GPs can charge a fee!
How soon do you want your travel vaccine ?
maybe 1 week early = £ 50
2 weeks early = £ 100,
3 weeks early = £ 200 , etc
It is a private fee for a travel vaccination after all?

Patrufini Duffy 16 July, 2021 1:45 pm

If you had to pay for your healthcare – Brits wouldnt have the chance to horse around, get the bevvies in and have the odd punch up and line of crack. Thought: why would anyone truly want British tourists? Ah yes – they don’t. Keep their sertraline at 100mg – they’re gonna need it.

terry sullivan 17 July, 2021 8:40 am

was it not originally 2 weeks apart?

John Graham Munro 17 July, 2021 12:44 pm

Ah more pressure—–when will it all end?——now France is being awkward—–why can’t they get some exercise and play football with their kids in the local park?

John Graham Munro 18 July, 2021 3:15 pm

So the staff health issues increase for my Practice—-Oh! the stress—-where can they go on their precious holidays?——now Bulgaria, and Denmark don’t want G.Ps either—–they could—-dare I say it—-stay at home and er pay for a locum——their children would have a whale of a time ‘scrumping’ etc.—–and G,Ps could pop back to surgery now and then (stand around, like spare prick at a wedding) just to reassure themselves it can cope without them for a couple of weeks——this goes on up and down the land.