Vaccine supply could hit record level from 15 March as campaign ramps up

Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine are set to double from 15 March compared with supplies available this week, NHS England has confirmed.

COVID-19 vaccine supply (Photo: Andrew Matthews/AFP/Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccine supply (Photo: Andrew Matthews/AFP/Getty Images)

In a letter to regional health service leaders, NHS England set out plans to step up vaccine deliveries as the NHS rolls out second doses to millions of patients while continuing to work through priority cohorts identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The letter confirms: 'From the week of 15 March we are now asking systems to plan and support all vaccination centres and local vaccination services to deliver around twice the level of vaccine available in the week of 1 March.'

It makes clear that from 11 March 'vaccine supply will increase substantially and be sustained at a higher level for several weeks'.

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Find out how the vaccination campaign is going: GPonline COVID-19 vaccination tracker

In the first part of the week beginning 8 March, however, NHS England's letter says there will be 'minimal allocations of new vaccine', and that this reflects 'national supply available to the programme'.

The current seven-day average figure for doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered per day UK-wide is just under 400,000, and the figure for England is just over 336,000.

This is slightly below the peaks seen in mid-February - but if the seven-day average doubles from this level under the expansion promised by NHS England, it will see record levels of vaccinations delivered.

For the week beginning 1 March, vaccination data are currently only available for Monday - when 173,212 first and second doses were delivered in England, and 231,450 UK-wide. The figure for Monday is low - but vaccinations have tended throughout the campaign to date to peak during the middle of the week.

COVID-19 vaccine

NHS England's letters says local vaccination sites 'have made an impressive start to the COVID-19 vaccination programme - with more than 20m people having received at least one dose of vaccine since the campaign began in December.

It highlights geographical variation - with London currently well behind other regions in England in vaccinations for age groups over 70.

The letter says: 'As we continue to progress vaccination in line with the JCVI cohorts, it is important that all vaccination providers focus on ensuring maximum cohort penetration, inviting patients outside the cohort only in very limited circumstances to avoid wastage.'

It highlights guidance on how to set up 'pop up centres’ in places of worship and other community sites to boost uptake - and promises that deliveries for second-dose vaccination will be distributed 'in the usual way', with further guidance to come soon alongwide a 'national public-facing campaign'.

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