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Exclusive: No requirement for 15-minute observation period with Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

by Awil Mohamoud
6 January 2021

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GP practices administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will not need to monitor patients for 15 minutes after vaccination, the medicines regulator has confirmed.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed to Management in Practice today (6 January) that the 15-minute observation period – which currently applies to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – does not extend to the Oxford vaccine.  

The 15-minute observation period was introduced for the Pfizer vaccine as a precaution after early reports of anaphylaxis following vaccination, but Management in Practice understands that such reports have so far not been observed with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Appropriate medical treatment and supervision in case of an anaphylatic event following administration should however always be readily available – as is the case with all vaccines.

The latest NHS England standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Covid-19 vaccination programme – updated on 5 January – states that those receiving the Pfizer vaccine should be monitored for 15 minutes, or longer in specific cases, after vaccination.

On other vaccines, it said: ‘Additional requirements may also be needed when future vaccines, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca, are available. These will be notified to providers by service commissioners.’

‘So much easier’

Last weekend, the Government said the ‘bulk’ of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered to ‘hundreds of GP-led services and care homes’ this week, after initially being rolled out to hospitals, and announced 180 further GP practices would be starting vaccinations.

Jo Wadey, practice manager, St Lawrence Surgery, Worthing told Management in Practice that her practice – which is due to start delivering vaccines next Monday – has been told it will receive 975 Pfizer and 400 AstraZeneca vaccinations (for those in care homes and housebound).

She said: ‘We are inundated with all patients asking when they are getting theirs, how can we lift their priority, when are carers getting it, and today, [calls from] dental staff.

‘We don’t have any guidance for this at the moment and have been told by our CCG to prioritise primary care staff and 80-years-plus so far.’

She added that using the Oxford/AstraZeneca will be ‘so much easier’ for the practice.

The Oxford vaccine can also be stored at between two and eight degrees and has a refrigerated shelf-life of six months, according to the latest NHS England SOP.

NHS England has been approached for comment.