GPs asked to consider drive-through COVID-19 vaccine clinics to boost coverage

GPs should work with partners to determine whether drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics could help to improve uptake in ‘low coverage areas’, according to updated guidance from NHS England.

Drive through COVID-19 vaccination (Photo: Andrew Aitchison/In Pictures/Getty Images)
Drive through COVID-19 vaccination (Photo: Andrew Aitchison/In Pictures/Getty Images)

Although groups of PCNs are not required to set up drive-through clinics, an updated standard operating procedure (SOP) asks them to work with local authorities to see if this approach could ‘better meet’ the needs of patients.

The guidance, updated on 26 March, states that GPs should think about travel times to vaccination centres, ease of access for underserved communities and targeting areas with ‘the greatest health needs’.

But it insists that drive-through clinics should be an ‘additional or expanded’ offer rather than a replacement for existing vaccination centres.

Drive-through vaccinations

There is no requirement for a vehicle or its occupants to remain on site for observation if the driver of the vehicle has not been vaccinated. But people driving themselves to be vaccinated must wait 15 minutes after their jab before getting back behind the wheel.

The SOP also states that NHS England will review 'as and when' GPs will be able to deliver other vaccines at drive-through clinics, with the Oxfrod/AstraZeneca jab the only one allowed at present.

Patients bookings vaccination or responding to an invite 'can be offered the choice of receiving vaccination via drive-through or at the provider's designated site'.

On GPs role in considering drive-through vaccination clinics, NHS England guidance states: ‘Whilst there is no requirement for existing providers to deploy drive-through clinics, we would expect all regional teams to be working with their local authority (LA) and local resilience forum (LRF) partners to analyse their current and forecasted coverage profile from a geographic and population specific perspective to determine if such provision will better meet the needs of the populations they serve.

Underserved communities

‘Particular considerations should include travel times to vaccination locations, ease of access for historically underserved communities and targeting of areas with greatest health inequalities.’

It adds: ‘Drive-through clinics, where appropriate to the needs of the local population, should be seen as an additional or expanded offer rather than a replacement for vaccination provision currently in operation. Local commissioners are encouraged to work with existing contractors to establish drive-through clinics where this will help to improve uptake in areas with low coverage.’

The SOP states that the commissioner will need to approve and confirm arrangements for a drive-through vaccine in writing, including clarifying who the PCN grouping can vaccinate at the temporary vaccination clinic.

PCN providers will also need to extend their CQC licence under the temporary provision to register the additional location and inform insurers of any changes.

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