At least one GP network has had to pull out of delivering the Covid vaccine next week because of new safety guidance, with PCNs around the country forced to urgently reconsider their plans.
This comes in light of new MHRA guidance stating that patients need to be kept for observation for 15 minutes following their vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine to rule out anaphylaxis.
Around 280 PCNs were due to join the vaccination programme next week (15 December), after around 50 hospital hubs began vaccinating over-80s and at-risk hospital staff this week.
GPs within the North East Derbyshire PCN has been due to begin vaccinations from Thursday next week, however they have now had to stand down from administering the Pfizer vaccine due to the new guidance.
PCN clinical director Dr Steve Rossi told Pulse: ‘We have had to pull back, primarily but not solely due to the reintroduction of the 15-minute observation period, which makes our site unusable.
‘We are therefore standing down until there’s further guidance or if the AstraZeneca one comes in and doesn’t have that 15-minute observation – which we sincerely hope it doesn’t – then we’re confident that we can then get involved.’
He added: ‘The long and short of it was that even though there are lots of other questions with regards to how the whole thing’s going to work with call and recall, and booking, and the input from the CCG, the thing that really has been the nail in the coffin, certainly in the short term, is this 15-minute observation.’
Describing the decision as ‘disappointing’, with ‘all the work put in’, Dr Rossi stressed that the PCN wants to provide the vaccination ‘as locally as possible’ for its patients, but has to do this ‘safely and follow the guidance’.
He added: ‘We’ll be ready to stand up as soon as it is feasible.’
Nine PCNs in Kent which are due to start vaccinating patients from next Monday are also having to ‘rethink their plans’ due to the new guidance, Pulse has learned.
Kent LMC medical director Dr John Allingham said the MHRA’s new stipulations means that GPs will ‘have to slow down their clinics dramatically’, which is anticipated to be a ‘major problem’.
He told Pulse: ‘What I know already is that there are a number of practices who are having to completely rethink their plans.’
He said this comes as only some of the bigger venues can fit more than ten people into the waiting rooms.
He also pointed out that the new requirement will increase the number of staff required at vaccination sites.
Dr Allingham added: ‘Quite a few are practices and PCNs are probably going to make a loss on this’.
Kent GP Dr Yvette Rean, whose PCN had been due to start vaccinations next week, said on Twitter that her site now ‘can’t do it’.
However, she told Pulse that they were still in discussions with the CCG about how it could be made feasible.
The MHRA’s new guidance, which was published in full last night, followed news that two NHS staff suffered allergic reactions upon receiving the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday – the first day of vaccinations in England.