PCN-led vaccination sites will be able to order extra Pfizer vaccine doses in order to follow new JCVI guidance, NHS England has said.
The clarification follows the Government’s announcement earlier today that patients aged 30-39 will be offered an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca where this is operationally possible, in a cautious approach to growing evidence surrounding blood clotting events.
An NHS England spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that this applies to both phase 1 and 2 of the vaccine rollout, although the healthy 30-39 cohort have yet to be invited for their jab.
Meanwhile, in a letter to practices today,, NHS England said that all vaccination sites should now prepare to have individual conversations around risks and benefits with all patients under 40 that are currently scheduled to receive a first AZ dose.
It added: ‘This means all vaccination sites will need to put immediate measures in place to ensure that regulated healthcare professionals are available to support these conversations.’
Those who choose to go ahead with the AZ vaccine following a conversation with a clinician should be given the vaccine or booked in for an appointment, NHS England said.
However, those who choose to have another vaccine should be rebooked into a clinic offering the Pfizer jab ‘over the coming weeks’, it added.
PCN-led sites can access ‘additional’ Pfizer stock if needed, the letter said, and a spokesperson told Pulse that previous NHS England guidance on accessing additional Pfizer doses to vaccinate pregnant women will apply.
The guidance said sites should use excess Pfizer supply from second dose clinics in the first instance, but ‘escalate’ via their Regional Vaccination Operations Centre (RVOC) ‘if they have insufficient Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate their eligible patients’.
Meanwhile, the BMA has revealed that GPs in Northern Ireland will focus on second doses while trust vaccination sites will deliver jabs to the under-40s.
Dr Alan Stout, BMA NI GP Committee chair said: ‘Our Trust sites will now receive mainly Pfizer vaccines enabling them to book and concentrate on the under-40’s first doses, while the SSE, our GP practices and community pharmacies will receive AZ to complete the other doses that are due.’
In Wales, practices have been mainly focussing on older and more clinically vulnerable patients in cohorts one to nine using the AZ vaccine, while health board mass vaccination centres deliver jabs to most under-50s, the BMA said.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government added: ‘All health boards in Wales are now vaccinating people under 40, this means vaccination centres will be predominantly using the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
‘In general, the AZ vaccine is used in GP practices and community pharmacies, this is because the AZ vaccine is more suitable for storing in these settings.’
The Scottish Department of Health was approached for comment.
Earlier this week, the BMA revealed that the Moderna vaccine – one of two AZ alternatives currently authorised in the UK – is not being prioritised for use in general practice at the moment.