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Practices may start Covid jabs in two weeks

GP practices could start giving patients Covid-19 jabs within the next two weeks after the medicines regulator approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer, Nursing in Practice‘s sister title Pulse has revealed.

The Department of Health and Social Care this morning announced that the Pfizer vaccine will be available across the UK from ‘next week’ following Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval.

Ahead of approval from the medicines regulator, NHS England published the enhanced service specifications, which said vacciations by GPs will begin at least ten days after NHS England gives the green light.

It also says that GPs will need to sign up to the enhanced service by the end of 7 December, with the enhanced service starting officially on 8 December.

The MHRA approval follows numerous statements from Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca around the efficacy of their respective vaccines.

Last night (Tuesday), NHS England published the service specifications for the enhanced service.

It said that GPs will need to sign up by 7 December, with the enhanced service starting on 8 December.

However, it said that practices will not start vaccinating until at least ten days after NHS England gives notification for the programme to start, which has not yet happened.

But following the announcement by the medicines regulator around the Pfizer vaccine, NHS England is expected to give the green light imminently, Pulse has written.

The service specification said: ‘The requirement to provide vaccinations under this ES will begin on the date to be notified to GP practices in writing by the Commissioner (NHSE). The commencement date for vaccine delivery will not be less than 10 calendar days following notification from NHSE.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

‘The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will shortly also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.’

Nursing in Practice has reported nurses, who are expected to a lot of the vaccination work, feel left out of the conversations on how the vaccinations will be delivered through the direct enhanced service (DES) contract. They want more information on the logistics of the vaccination work with their already heavy workloads.

General practices will have to administer the Covid vaccine to care home residents and staff, and housebound patients through home visits.  

Pulse revealed in early November that GPs were likely to start administering the Covid vaccine before Christmas.