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GP practices to identify 5-11s eligible for Covid jab by next week

5-11 jab

All GP practices must ‘immediately’ begin identifying 5-11s who are eligible for a Covid vaccine, NHS England has said.

Those not delivering vaccines to the cohort must give their commissioner a list of eligible children by next week Thursday (27 January) ‘at the latest’.

Meanwhile, practices vaccinating must order stock by the end of the month to begin delivery as soon as it arrives, NHS England said.

An operational note sent to all GPs said that while some automated searches are available in GP IT systems, GPs must write to all immunosuppressed patients informing them that any household contacts aged 5-11 are eligible for the jab.

The guidance, shared by Cleveland LMC in its GP bulletin yesterday, said: ‘All GP practices must run searches to identify 5-11-year olds who are in a clinical risk group. 

‘Please commence immediately with your searches and complete these as soon as possible. This request applies to all GP sites regardless of participation in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.’

It added that new automated searches are ‘now available’ in IT systems to help identify eligible children, however all practices must also write to their immunosuppressed patients as it is ‘not possible to create national search tools’ for household contacts.

NHS England said that ‘not all’ eligible 5-11s can be identified through the GP record so ‘any approach’ by parents or someone with parental responsibility of children in a clinical risk group or household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed ‘should be considered’ and  ‘clinical judgement used around eligibility in line with JCVI advice’. 

It added: ‘If a patient (or someone with parental responsibility) considers the 5-11-year-old is eligible under this group but have not been invited for an appointment, we are advising them to contact their GP practice to discuss their eligibility and so that the GP can signpost the patient appropriately.’

The guidance also said: ‘If a GP practice is not participating in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, please ensure you provide a list of all identified eligible children to your local commissioner as soon as operationally feasible and by 27 January at the latest so that provisions can be made to invite and vaccinate this group.’

PCN-led sites vaccinating the cohort ‘should have started to offer the primary vaccination course’ and must order paediatric 10-microgram Pfizer doses ‘by the end of January and commence rollout to this cohort as soon as supply has been delivered and it is safe for you to do so’, it added.

However, while it is ‘recommended’ that clinicians wait for the new paediatric formulation to become available ‘where possible’, they may decide to vaccinate a child aged 5-11 using a ‘fractional dose’ of the current 30-microgram vaccine off-label via a patient specific direction, it said.

This should be considered ‘on an individual basis and where it is in the best interests of the patient’, it added.

The guidance on vaccinating 5-11s also set out:

  • The national booking service will not be available to the group ‘until March’ so local booking systems must be used, or walk-ins offered
  • Vaccination sites must ‘have processes in place’ to identify 5-11s on arrival so they can be ‘immediately routed to be seen by appropriately trained staff and to receive the correct dose and vaccine’
  • They should consider priority queues for the cohort as well as ‘practical solutions’ to ‘separate the pathways’ for different vaccine dosages
  • Some children with ‘specific risk factors’ must still be observed for 15 minutes following vaccination, in line with the Green Book 
  • The patient group direction (PGD) and national protocol for the new paediatric Pfizer dose will be published ‘by 24 January’
  • PCNs and specialist children’s centres should ‘prioritise’ the identification and vaccination of the group supported by hospital-led sites, while school-based teams should not be commissioned
  • PCNs must also continue to vaccinate vulnerable cohorts, care home residents and staff, immunosuppressed patients, the unvaccinated and ‘explore all opportunities to drive uptake’  

Source: NHS England operational note

Meanwhile, the guidance added that PCN groupings are eligible for a £10 supplement in addition to the item of service (IoS) fee for jabs administered to eligible children aged 5-11.

In a written Q&A at NHS England’s latest GP webinar last week, an NHS England moderator confirmed that the IoS fee is £15 until 31 January and thereafter will return to £12.58.

Last month, GPs were given until 14 January to opt-out of delivering Covid jabs to children aged five to 11.

At the time, NHS England also said that booster doses for vulnerable 12-15s are due to begin this month and that all practices will also be asked to identify eligible teenagers in this group, with more details to be published ‘in the new year’.

It came after the Government accepted new JCVI advice that vulnerable children over five should be offered a Covid vaccine, among other groups.

This includes children aged 5-11 who are in a clinical risk group or a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed.

It also includes 12-15s who are clinically vulnerable, a household contact of an immunosuppressed person or themselves ‘severely immunosuppressed’ and having had a third primary dose and all 16-17s.

According to the JCVI advice, eligible 5-11s should be offered two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab eight weeks apart and each dose at least four weeks after any Covid infection.

Eligible 12-17s should receive 30 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of Covid vaccinations.

NHS England has announced that all eligible teenagers aged 16-17 can book their Covid booster jab from this week, with around 40,000 becoming eligible on Monday.

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Patrufini Duffy 20 January, 2022 12:50 pm

Did it yesterday.