Three waves of GP sites expected this month as COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins

Three waves of GP practices could be approved to start delivering COVID-19 vaccination before Christmas, with around 280 first-wave sites to be followed swiftly by a wider roll-out.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

GP leaders have told GPonline that the first designated primary care sites - which will begin to administer vaccinations from the week beginning 14 December - have now been confirmed.

Sites as far afield as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Northumberland will be among those in the first wave, with roughly two per CCG expected to be rolled out next week.

Approval for first-wave GP sites comes as 50 hospital hubs established across England begin to administer doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on 8 December - dubbed 'V-day' by the government to mark the start of the largest vaccination campaign in NHS history.

COVID-19 vaccine

Hospital sites will deliver vaccinations to care home staff and to patients aged over 80 attending hospital for outpatient appointments or who are being discharged.

GPonline has reported that first-wave GP practices in England could deliver more than 270,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine next week, with each site that goes live expected to administer 975 doses within 3.5 days.

Given that each patient vaccinated requires two doses, rollout to further sites could depend on how soon further batches of vaccine arrive in the UK. The DHSC has said 800,000 doses will be available this week - but only around 85% of these will be for England.

A spokesperson for Pfizer told GPonline that the company would not share 'specifics on the volume or timetable' for supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the UK. However, the spokesperson made clear that further deliveries would come this year, confirming that 'we expect to supply millions this year and the 40m agreed in 2021'.

Designated sites

Despite confirmation from LMCs that sites have been approved in their areas, NHS England has yet to confirm how many GP sites will begin delivering vaccinations from next week.

However, a statement from NHS England to mark the start of the vaccination campaign confirmed that GP practices starting to deliver vaccinations from 14 December would be followed by more this year.

'A number of GP-led primary care networks will begin [delivering vaccinations] next week with more practices in more parts of the country joining in on a phased basis during December,' the statement said.

Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson said he expected three waves of designated sites to go live this year, although he said it was not clear how many would be stood up in each wave.

He said 10 sites in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight had been confirmed as part of the first wave. In Northumberland, LMC medical secretary Dr Jane Lothian said two had been approved.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: 'Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.

'Hospitals have now cared for more than 190,000 seriously ill COVID-19 patients and have seen beds fill up again in recent weeks.

'The deployment of this vaccine marks a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic. NHS vaccination programmes which have successfully helped overcome tuberculosis, polio, and smallpox, now turn their focus to coronavirus.'

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