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October 2020

Updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccination



The advisory committee on immunisations has updated its guidance on who should be given priority access to COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available.

Previously, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the highest priority group for vaccination should be frontline health and social care workers because they are at the greatest increased personal risk of exposure to COVID-19 infection, and of transmitting infection to susceptible and vulnerable patients.

But the JCVI has now revised this opinion, and says that people living in care homes should be given precedence over healthcare staff.

The updated interim guidance sets out 11 groups in order of priority for vaccination – but has warned that this advice could change when more information becomes available on vaccine efficacy and/or immunogenicity in different age and risk groups; safety data in different age and risk groups; the impact of the vaccine on infection and transmission; the transmission pattern at the time a vaccine becomes available; and epidemiological and clinical characteristics of COVID-19.

The interim priority groups are:

1. Older adults resident in a care home and care home workers

2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers

3. All those 75 years of age and over

4. All those 70 years of age and over

5. All those 65 years of age and over

6. High-risk adults under 65 years of age

7. Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age

8. All those 60 years of age and over

9. All those 55 years of age and over

10. All those 50 years of age and over

11. Rest of the population (priority to be determined)

The committee has decided that a simple age-based vaccination strategy would be ‘easier to deliver and therefore achieve higher uptake’. But it says whether frontline staff should be prioritised above, alongside or below, people at the highest risk from COVID-19 will depend on the characteristics of the vaccines when they become available. ‘Frontline health and social care workers are at increased personal risk of exposure to infection with COVID-19 and of transmitting that infection to susceptible and vulnerable patients in health and social care settings. It is also recognised that vaccination of frontline health and social care workers will help to maintain resilience in the NHS.’

JCVI; 25 September 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-25-september-2020/jcvi-updated-interim-advice-on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination

Practice Nurse 2020;50(8):6