Vaccination sites led by Primary Care Networks will be able to order extra Pfizer doses, which will help them offer an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca, NHS England has confirmed.
The clarification followed the Government’s announcement on Friday that patients aged 30-39 will be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine to AstraZeneca where this is operationally possible. The move is a cautious approach to growing evidence surrounding blood clotting events.
An NHS England spokesperson confirmed to Nursing in Practice‘s sister title 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 on Friday, 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.
Vaccination sites let by Primary Care Networks (PCN) 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’.
The BMA has also 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.’
Pulse approached the Scottish Department of Health for comment.