Local areas should prepare to potentially offer Covid boosters to all patients aged over 50, and those who are vulnerable, from September, NHS England has said.
In a letter to practices and commissioners yesterday, it said they should ‘plan’ for a 15-week campaign, with a ‘minimum scenario to offer vaccination to JCVI cohorts 1-6 and for a maximum scenario to include JCVI cohorts 1-9’.
This would include care home residents and staff, healthcare staff, the clinically extremely vulnerable, all over-65s and adults with underlying conditions at minimum, or these groups plus the over-50s at maximum.
The letter said: ‘Each system will need to ensure sufficient operational flexibility to respond quickly and effectively to a potential autumn campaign, with minimum disruption to core health and care services, including other vaccination services.’
It added that the programme would span 15 weeks from September to December 2022, but did not state what level of involvement is expected from GPs.
The letter also revealed that PCN vaccination sites are ‘not expected’ to be the ‘primary delivery model’ for the spring Covid booster jab programme.
The Government announced earlier this week that over-75s, care home residents and over-12s who are immunosuppressed will receive an additional Covid booster jab from spring, following new JCVI advice.
But the JCVI has also advised UK governments that a further booster is likely to be advised ‘for people who are at higher risk of severe’ Covid this autumn, with more definitive advice to come ‘in due course’.
Meanwhile, local commissioners must be able to ‘surge’ capacity ‘within two weeks’ to ‘offer vaccination to everyone aged 12 years and older, should this be advised by JCVI’, NHS England said.
It added that they must ‘maximise every opportunity’ to build ‘greater alignment’ with other vaccination programmes ‘wherever clinically and operationally possible’ in 2022/23.
It said: ‘This means identifying opportunities to co-deliver and co-promote, as well as co-administer alongside other vaccination programmes (e.g influenza or pneumococcal vaccines) where appropriate.
‘All vaccination sites will be expected to create opportunities to improve population health, delivering as a minimum health promotion advice and offering health and screening checks where possible to further address health inequalities.’
NHS England asked commissioners to engage with providers to ‘understand their capacity’ and ‘confirm their detailed operational plan for the delivery of uninterrupted Covid-19 vaccinations for the period to September 2022’ over the ‘next few weeks’.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.