Clinical commissioning group (CCG) chief pharmacists have been told to support GPs in handling and administering the ‘fragile’ Pfizer Covid vaccine.
In a letter, published earlier this week (8 December), NHS England said the vaccine must be handled carefully and kept under certain conditions as it contains a delicate substance, and noted that GPs ‘may not be used to dealing with fragile medicines of this nature’.
Pharmaceutical expertise and oversight will therefore be required to ensure the integrity of the vaccines while being delivered at designated primary care network (PCN) sites, it added.
GPs will start administering the Covid vaccine in the week commencing 14 December, NHS England recently announced, starting with an initial 280 sites.
The name of the lead responsible CCG chief pharmacist for each local vaccination centre must be given to the NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) regional chief pharmacist, the letter said.
CCGs have also been asked to confirm they have provided full clinical assurance for each of the PCN designated sites, before a vaccine is delivered – a role the responsible CCG chief pharmacist is expected to be ‘intimately’ involved in.
This will, for example, involve looking at whether the standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been met, that workforce and training requirements are in place, and the premises, equipment and supplies are suitable, the letter said.
The responsible CCG chief pharmacist should help ‘identify senior pharmacy team members with significant experience of the delivery of, and training related to, aseptic preparation or a senior nurse with experience in aseptic non-touch technique training in order to ensure compliance with the technical SOPs,’ it added.
In the meantime, NHS England suggested that CCG chief pharmacists observe how staff are deploying the vaccine in hospitals.
It added that the NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service, which led the development of the technical SOPs, will allocate quality assurance experts to each lead CCG chief pharmacist for support and guidance – to be made available through regional chief pharmacists.