This site is intended for health professionals only


Vaccinators ‘should encourage’ high-risk groups to have Covid jab

Covid vaccination


Healthcare professional adminstering Covid vaccinations should encourage men, those who are obese and people working in professions with higher risk from Covid to have their jab.

This is according to the guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) yesterday for the second phase of the Covid vaccination programme.

Online bookings via the national booking system opened to the over-45s yesterday morning after the Government reached its target of offering a first dose of vaccine to the nine most vulerable groups – including over 50s.

The JCVI second phase Covid vaccination guidance released yesterday said: ‘Unvaccinated individuals who are at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 on account of their occupation, male sex, obesity or ethnic background are likely to be vaccinated most rapidly by an operationally simple vaccine strategy.

‘JCVI strongly advises that individuals in these groups promptly take up the offer of vaccination when they are offered, and that deployment teams should utilise their understanding of local health systems and demographics, combined with clear communications and outreach activity, to promote vaccination in these groups.’

It pointed out these higher-risk groups would not be prioritised and no alternative to the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will be offered to the over-30s. Although, it ‘strongly advises that priority is given to the deployment of vaccination in the most appropriate manner to promote vaccine uptake in persons from ethnic minority backgrounds who have not yet been vaccinated.’

The JCVI confirmed the rollout will follow an age-based approach, starting with those aged 40-49, then 30-39s and finally the 18-29s – justifying the approach by saying a ‘simple’ prioritisation based on age would be rolled out most quickly.

With regards to concerns for extremely rare blood clots following vaccination, it reiterated that the ‘benefits of prompt vaccination’ with the AstraZeneca vaccine ‘far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals aged 30 years and over’, as well as those with underlying conditions.

The JCVI did, however, recommend patients should be informed of the frequency of ‘mild to moderate reactions’ to the vaccine in younger adults and advised to take paracetamol to mitigate symptoms.

It added it ‘supports flexibility’ in vaccine delivery to ensure ‘every opportunity’ is taken to offer the jab to groups with lower uptake – including the use of different vaccination settings and delivery to multigenerational households.

While no vaccines are currently authorised for use in children, the JCVI has ‘started to consider evidence’ on the risk of serious disease in children, the role they may play in transmission and the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines in children, it added.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Today, the JCVI has published its final advice on an age-based prioritisation, which we accept in full.

‘I can announce formally, that from today we have opened up invitations to get a vaccine to all aged over 45, and then we will proceed to everyone aged over 40 in line with supplies.’

All four UK nations have agreed to adopt the JCVI’s recommended approach, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed.

The news comes as NHS England last week said GP-led sites will not receive any new first-dose Covid vaccine deliveries at all over the next two weeks – over and above what was already expected – due to reduced supply.