Boost for vaccine campaign as 15-minute observation not needed after Oxford jab

Updated NHS guidance confirms there is no need for a 15-minute observation period after administration of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine (Photo: Russell Cheyne/AFP/Getty Images)
Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine (Photo: Russell Cheyne/AFP/Getty Images)

Confirmation that the 15-minute observation period is not required for the second vaccine to be approved for use in the UK could prove a major boost for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Following an update on 6 January, the standard operating procedure for COVID-19 vaccination in community settings says: 'For the Oxford/Astra Zeneca there is not a requirement for 15 minutes observation unless this is indicated after clinical assessment.'

The requirement for a 15-minute observation remains for patients who receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, under MHRA rules imposed following allergic reactions in NHS staff who were among the first people to receive the vaccine last month.

COVID-19 vaccination

The requirement forced some primary care sites that had been in line to begin vaccinating patients in the first-wave rollout of COVID-19 jabs last month to pull out at the last minute, because limited premises space meant they could not bring patients through fast enough to use 975 doses of vaccine within 3.5 days.

An earlier update to the standard operating procedure suggested the 15-minute requirement could remain in place for both vaccine types.

Meanwhile, an update from the MHRA on 30 December, referenced in the standard operating procedure, reveals that patients with a history of severe allergic reaction can now have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - reversing earlier guidance.

The update said that only those with a history of allergic reactions to the ingredients in the vaccine should not be given the jab.

Housebound patients

The SOP has also been updated to provide advice on vaccinating housebound patients and additional advice on care homes. It recommends that PCN vaccination sites use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for housebound patients because it is easier to transport and store.

If vaccination does take place in a patient's home, NHS England suggests that a two-person team should attend - a lead vaccinator and a member of staff to provide support. The team should remain at the house for a 15-minute observation period.

GP-led sites were expected to receive their first deliveries of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine on 7 and 8 January.

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