The DHSC has proposed that the temporary measures that have expanded the workforce eligible to administer Covid and flu vaccines should become permanent.
It comes as part of a new consultation (8 December) that considers extending some short-term measures introduced to help facilitate the mass Covid and flu campaigns.
Under current temporary arrangements, a wider range of healthcare professionals in the occupational health workforce can administer the jabs to health and care workers through occupational health schemes. These include nurses, midwives, operating department practitioners, paramedics, physiotherapists and pharmacists.
Prior to these measures – which are set to expire April 2022 – only nurses acting under written instruction of a doctor and doctors themselves were authorised.
The DHSC warned that if these changes lapse it ‘could cause delays in vaccinating health and social care workers’, given that staff are ‘often’ vaccinated through these schemes.
It said: ‘Making this change permanent will help ensure we have the workforce needed to continue to deliver a mass Covid-19 vaccination programme (including any necessary subsequent booster doses), in addition to delivery of an upscaled influenza programme for NHS and social care staff.’
It added that it must be ensured that there is sufficient workforce to allow for the co-administration of Covid and flu shots were available.
The consultation closes in three weeks (29 December).
Extensions to Covid vaccine delivery
The consultation also proposes making permanent provisions that allowed pharmacies to run a vaccination service from sites separate to their registered premises.
This provision allowed ‘hundreds’ of pharmacies to set up pop-up clinics in areas with groups of unvaccinated patients or infection clusters, and to vaccinate residents and carers in care homes.
The DHSC suggested this was ‘expected to be used more widely in 2021 to 2022’ influenza programme.
Meanwhile, it proposed extending measures to allow vaccines to be moved between certain premises without the need for wholesale dealer licenses.
This comes just over a week after the Government confirmed the booster programme would be extended to include all adults over 18, where previously it had been open to only those over 50.
And last week, NHS England has reopened the sign-up window for phase three of the Covid vaccine programme, after committing new financial support to PCN-led vaccine services.