The Government is ramping up efforts to vaccinate two million people a week against COVID-19, promising that around 1,200 local vaccination sites will be operational by the end of January. Most will be general practice led but there will also be hospital hubs, mass vaccination centres and community pharmacy sites.
In addition ‘roving’ vaccination teams will bring the vaccine directly to individuals in care home residents and workers, and to groups such as the homeless and people living in refuges, or communities with low vaccination rates.
The vaccine deployment plan published on 11 January states that ‘by the end of January capacity to vaccinate several hundred thousand people a day and at least two million people a week will be achieved’.
The roll out of mass vaccination centres has provoked criticism as many GP sites have stood idle awaiting delivery of vaccine supplies. One PCN vaccination centre with the capacity to offer 2,000 vaccinations a day is currently receiving just 800 vaccine doses a week. But the Government plan confirms that the UK’s vaccine supply and scheduled deliveries will ‘fully support’ vaccination of the priority cohorts 1-4 by mid-February. Everyone in groups 1-9 will be offered the first dose of vaccination by mid-Spring and all adults should be vaccinated by autumn 2020.
The strategy also pledges to continue monitoring new strains of the coronavirus and to respond rapidly if a variant emerges that means current vaccines are less effective.
The COVID-19 vaccination deployment programme will include a range of non-clinical support staff and volunteers, for example from St John Ambulance, but in the meantime practice nurses say their efforts to support the vaccination effort are being frustrated by red tape.