A new strategy that will shape the future of vaccination delivery is expected to be published by the end of the year, a senior NHS England official has said.
MPs in the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee are analysing the role of vaccination in preventative healthcare, as vaccines are one of 10 themes identified in the committee’s new inquiry into prevention in health and social care.
Earlier this week the committee heard from health minister Maria Caulfield and Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s director of clinical integration and deputy senior responsible officer of the NHS Covid vaccination programme.
Dr Kanani, who is a GP in south-east London, told the committee that the promised strategy, which will enable the delivery of an integrated approach to vaccinations, is expected to be published by the end of the year.
She said: ‘It will be this year, as we have committed to. What we’ve tried to do is make it really practical as well, so that when colleagues see it, they will see very good examples of what makes a difference in vaccination and why we are building it into the strategy.’
She added: ‘A big thing will be a range of providers who are able to give the vaccine in a way that works for the local community.’
Dr Kanani also mentioned that pharmacies are expected to take on a larger responsibility, as they have ‘a huge role to play in the future of vaccine delivery’.
She said: ‘ICSs will design their model to make sure that there is access for the communities they have but I really see a strong role for pharmacies within that – it’s one of our great assets.
‘We have already started to talk about a wider role that community pharmacy can play – not only because of their skill set but also because of the great pressures general practice is facing.’
Ms Caulfield also told the committee that ‘there are no plans’ to make some vaccines compulsory in the UK.
She said: ‘I don’t think there is a need for it at the moment, we have got very high uptakes in terms of most vaccine programmes, and I think our preference is to give people the choice.
‘There are no plans to bring in compulsory vaccinations at all, we have got a successful vaccination programme.’
Government plans for a ‘national vaccination service’ were first revealed in January last year, when then health secretary Sajid Javid told MPs it was needed to ensure GPs are not asked to stop routine care again, as they did during the Covid vaccination programme.
NHS England documents then revealed that a ‘long-term NHS vaccination service’ is now under development and a procurement notice was put out in July last year.
Last month, the committee was told that workload around vaccine delivery ‘fell purely onto general practice’ in the past decade due to the fragmentation of the NHS.
This article was first published in our sister publication Pulse