NHS faces 2.9m jabs a week to hit May over-50s target - with booster campaign to follow

GPs face intense pressure as the profession targets COVID-19 jabs for over 50s by May, with a booster campaign to follow - amid concerns that patients requiring proof of vaccination for holidays will land practices with extra red tape.

Government plans to deliver a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all patients aged over 50 in the UK by May will mean a first dose for 32m people by that time.

The latest data on vaccinations to date show that more than 12m people had received a first dose by 6 February, as the NHS nears its target of delivering first doses to 15m people - those in the first four cohorts identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) - by 15 February, while just over 500,000 have received two doses.

However, completing first doses for everyone over 50 - covering JCVI cohorts 1-9, in addition to second doses for cohorts 1-4 means the NHS will have to deliver more than 400,000 doses a day on average for the 85 days from 6 February to the end of April.

COVID-19 vaccine

Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday that a follow-up booster vaccination campaign would be needed in autumn to ensure protection against emerging variants of coronavirus - with an annual campaign to follow.

He said: 'We see very much probably a booster in the autumn and then an annual...in the way we do with flu vaccination where you look at what variant is spreading round the world, you rapidly produce a variant of vaccine and then you protect the nation.'

Comments from Mr Zahawi on Sky's Sophy Ridge sparked further concerns over rising red tape for GPs. He said the government had no plans to create 'vaccine passports' to show people's vaccination status - but said that people could ask their GP for confirmation of vaccination if this was required for travel abroad.

'If other countries require some form of proof you can ask your GP because your GP will hold the record and of course that will then be able to be used as your proof that you have been vaccinated,' he said.

Red tape fears

The RCGP warned that practices must not be tied with red tape as they sought to deliver the biggest NHS vaccination campaign in history.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: 'We would need a lot more clarification on how the proposed system for other countries would work. The priority must be to keep GPs and their teams on the frontline of the vaccination programme, not spending time on cumbersome red tape that will take them away from patient care and beating this virus.

'The college has had no discussions as yet on the role of GPs in providing proof of vaccination for purposes of travel. However, we are making regular representations to NHS Digital to improve the IT systems supporting the vaccination programme.

'GPs are working really hard to get as many patients as possible vaccinated as safely and speedily as possible. We cannot allow administration to get in their way.'

Pressure from the vaccination campaign comes on top of significant pressure on general practice in the first weeks of 2021 from other work.

GPonline reported last month that practices delivered around 400,000 more patient consultations in the first three full weeks of 2021 than in the same period last year.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Pension tax solution for judges shows government could do more for doctors, says BMA

Pension tax solution for judges shows government could do more for doctors, says BMA

Government plans to 'effectively exempt judges from pension tax' show the government...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

Second-phase COVID-19 vaccine rollout maintains prioritisation by age

Second-phase COVID-19 vaccine rollout maintains prioritisation by age

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published advice on...

PCNs paid £70m for first-wave COVID-19 jab campaign as NHS plots next phase of rollout

PCNs paid £70m for first-wave COVID-19 jab campaign as NHS plots next phase of rollout

Primary care network (PCN) COVID-19 vaccination sites have been paid £70m this month...

London GP personally calling at-risk patients to boost COVID-19 vaccine uptake

London GP personally calling at-risk patients to boost COVID-19 vaccine uptake

London GP Dr Farzana Hussain is personally telephoning scores of patients who have...

Half of patients with possible cancer symptoms avoided contacting GP in first wave

Half of patients with possible cancer symptoms avoided contacting GP in first wave

Almost half of people who experienced potential cancer symptoms in the first wave...