Around 100 GP sites in England received deliveries of the Covid vaccine today (14 December), with the majority of practices due to start vaccinating patients tomorrow, NHS England has said.
An NHS England spokesperson told Management in Practice that all practices receiving deliveries are signed up to the enhanced service and ‘hundreds’ will be sent the vaccine this week.
A letter previously sent to PCN sites on 7 December said all sites going live this week – initially expected to be 280 – will receive 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in their first delivery.
‘Groups of health providers are setting up local vaccination centres in villages, towns and cities covering every part of the country,’ NHS England said in a statement today, adding that more practices and pharmacies will join the programme ‘during December and in the coming months’.
GP sites going live this week will start vaccinating patients aged 80 and over, as well as care home residents and staff.
‘We are learning together’
Claire Deare, practice manager at Saxon Spires Practice, Northamptonshire, said her practice has been working closely with PCN colleagues to support the local designated site, which starts its first clinic tomorrow (14 December).
She said: ‘Our clinical director has been closely involved in getting his practice approved as a designated site. Our inter-practice relationships are really good which has made it possible to get moving so quickly, and WhatsApp has been a really useful communication tool, as has the Accurx booking system.’
Ms Deare added that she initially felt somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of work her practices was expected to do, and that it was important her practice continued to provide a normal service to patients, given that many parts of the system are not working optimally.
‘The excitement of being able to start getting [it] out [to our] most vulnerable patients has really been a motivating factor. I’ve loved how everyone has pitched in and helped, and how, as five practices, we are learning together.’
Responding to the launch of the programme in general practice, Professor Martin Marshall, RCGP chair, said GP teams are about to embark on an ‘enormous challenge’, while also in the middle of the flu vaccination campaign and continuing to provide routine care and services.
He added: ‘There are also logistical challenges but general practice has an excellent track record of delivering mass vaccination programmes, and we want to use this experience to help protect people from Covid-19 and start getting life back to normal again.’
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, said: ‘This will be a major undertaking and now hundreds of GP practices working together in locally based practice groups will ensure that this vital vaccination campaign is carried out as swiftly as possible, providing protection to some of our most vulnerable patients, with safety and well-being at the heart of their work.’