GPs face annual COVID jab campaigns as UK buys 114m extra doses

COVID-19 vaccination campaigns look set to become an annual part of GP practice workload after the government ordered an additional 114m doses for the next two years.

COVID-19 jabs to become annual (Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images)

Contracts for 60m more doses of the Moderna vaccine and 54m of the Pfizer jab were accelerated after the emergence of the Omicron variant and will add to supplies for next year and 2023.

The government has said that deals will 'future proof' vaccination efforts in the years ahead and protect more people - repeating calls for the public to come forward for their jabs. It has already ordered an additional 102.5m doses to arrive in 2022.

Pfizer chief executive Dr Albert Bourla has also predicted that yearly COVID-19 vaccines are 'likely to be needed to maintain a very robust and high level of protection' - telling BBC News that people will need the vaccines for many years to come.

Booster campaigns

Signs that the UK could be set for annual COVID-19 vaccination campaigns come as GPs have warned they currently do not have the capacity or staff to deliver the accelerated booster campaign announced by the government.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Thanks to the vaccines taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.

‘These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort - which has so far delivered more than 115m first, second and booster jabs across the UK - and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.’

In August this year, the government ordered 35m additional Pfizer doses for delivery in the second half of 2022, along with 60m Novavax and 7.5m Sanofi doses also expected next year. The government says the new vaccine deals ‘include access to modified vaccines’ to combat mutations.

GP workload

Earlier this week the government accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for the COVID-19 booster campaign to be extended to all adults aged 18 to 39 years old - a move to thwart the spread of the Omicron variant - and aim to offer all over 18s a booster by 31 January.

GPs have been offered additional funding to carry out the accelerated campaign. But the BMA has warned that funding alone will not be enough to deliver more vaccinations - demanding that surgeries are relieved of bureucratic work to free up staff.

Routine CQC inspections have been stopped and senior GPs have suggested that QOF work should be paused also. It comes at a time when GP committee chair Dr Farah Jameel has said the profession is 'in crisis' and needs to protect itself.

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