NHSE/I has published a letter about the outcome of general practice site designation process to provide commissioners and practices with more information to help with planning. This follows on from a letter that NHSE/I sent to NHS Trusts last week, outlining the wider COVID-19 vaccination deployment strategy and operational readiness for mass immunisation sites.
The letter sets out that NHSE/I aims to give all designated sites at least 10 days’ notice of the first vaccines becoming available to ensure sites can be prepared and clinics arranged. It also suggests practices may wish to use this opportunity to invite the extended flu vaccination programme cohort of 50-64 year olds to their single designated site, to test arrangements.
In addition, NHSE/I has published FAQs on their FutureNHS platform (sign in required) based on the information known at present about eligible cohorts, appointment booking, administration of the vaccine, workforce and funding, to help answer any question that practices may have. We also expect that the COVID-19 vaccination programme specifications will be published imminently.
Practices have already started putting in place arrangements at an unprecedented speed and should be commended for doing so. It's been vital to be prepared for all possible options and once the regulatory process is complete we will all have greater clarity and be able to finalise plans. The difficulties with storing and moving the Pfizer vaccine make the delivery of this particularly challenging. As a result it may be that initial vaccination plans of priority groups including care homes residents and healthcare staff will depend on the specific vaccinations available.
Please see the BMA's recent guidance about the COVID-19 vaccination programme which has FAQs throughout to answer some of the questions that we know practices must have, and we will regularly update it when new information is available.