In a letter setting out next steps on COVID-19 vaccination, NHS England said it aimed to offer and deliver a spring booster to over-75s by the end of June, but that patients will continue to be able to book jabs until the end of August. Around three quarters of eligible patients have received the booster to date.
GP practices will shortly be invited to sign up to deliver jabs as part of an autumn booster campaign targeted at patients in JCVI cohorts 1-6 - patients in care homes for older people, health and care workers, those aged over 65 and patients aged 16-65 in at-risk groups.
Each of England's integrated care system (ICS) areas will be handed a fixed budget to cover core delivery of COVID-19 vaccination, engagement work to boost delivery in the communities they serve and 'surge' capacity that can be ramped up in the event of an outbreak.
NHS England's letter says: 'New contracts and full details about an expressions of interest process for community pharmacy and an opt-in process for general practice involvement in the COVID-19 vaccination programme from autumn 2022 will be published shortly.'
ICSs have been told to plan for delivery of COVID-19 vaccination to cohorts 1-6 at minimum, and potentially up to cohorts 1-9 - meaning all patients aged over 50 would be offered jabs - and that vaccination should be delivered 'without disruption to core health and care services'.
NHS England's letter says that vaccination sites are expected to 'maximise opportunities to co-promote and co-administer where possible and clinically advised (e.g. COVID-19, flu and pneumococcal)', adding that vaccination centres can be used to 'deliver other routine immunisations if appropriate'.
The letter adds: 'All vaccination sites will be expected to create opportunities to improve population health, delivering as a minimum health promotion advice, and offering health checks where possible.'
The JCVI issued interim advice in May recommending an autumn booster campaign, warning that winter would pose the greatest threat to higher-risk people.
Despite relatively strong uptake among older age groups, COVID-19 vaccination in children aged 5-11 has stalled. More than two months after rollout to this group began, less than one in 10 children aged 5-11 had received at least one dose of vaccine, GPonline reported earlier this month.