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Six-month wait for Covid booster shots cut to five for vulnerable groups

by Jess Hacker
1 November 2021

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Practices can now administer some Covid booster shots five months after a patients’ second vaccine dose to help with co-administering flu vaccines, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.

By cutting the wait between doses from six months to five, some vulnerable groups including housebound patients will be able to receive the flu and Covid shots in a single appointment, it said.

Similarly, the cut will mean care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times can now be vaccinated in the same session.

Ahead of the programme’s launch in September, NHS England had told practices to co-administer the flu and Covid vaccines where possible.

However, practices began cancelling thousands of flu vaccine appointments after a delay of up to two weeks on deliveries of flu vaccine stock.

The change comes as part of a series of updates to the Green Book to help vaccination sites reach more vulnerable patients by speeding up the programme’s administration.

Under the updated guidance, people eligible for a booster but who are about to receive immunosuppressive treatment will be able to get their booster four months after their second dose.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the updates will ‘ensure healthcare professionals have the necessary flexibility in the booster programme’.

Meanwhile, NHS England announced that from today (1 November) eligible patients can now use the NHS online walk-in finder to book their booster without an appointment.

Two weeks ago, Management in Practice reported that the booster programme had reached half of all those eligible in its first month, as the UK recorded its highest number of daily Covid cases since July.

As of last Friday (29 October), 7.2 million people had received their booster jab.

The campaign is running alongside the schools programme, which has seen more than 600,000 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated.