Covid vaccine clinics could run from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, leading doctors have suggested.
GPs in England have been given information on how to prepare for a vaccine rollout.
According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the correspondence says that the NHS and GP practices must be prepared for “rapid delivery” in the event that a vaccine gets approved for use by regulators.
The intention is for doctors to be prepared to start delivering vaccines when they become available.
But the BMA said it expects “vaccine availability to be limited to begin with, meaning only small numbers of vaccine may be given in December and most vaccinations taking place in early 2021”.
**COVID vaccine guidance for GPs now online**
The guidance includes:– what the service involves– what is expected of practices– what you will get to support this work– guidance on what to do now
Read it here: https://t.co/nADk2TGoxU
— General Practice (@BMA_GP) November 9, 2020
The doctors’ union has created guidance for GPs on the new “directed enhanced service” document – which sets out how they deliver a service above their usual contract.
Family doctors have been provided with information on how they will provide the vaccine, what they will be paid for the service and other key information.
GPs have been told to prepare to give patients two vaccine doses, which are to be delivered between 21 and 28 days apart.
Eligible patients will be “confirmed soon”, the BMA said but it is expected that the priority list for who gets the vaccine will be in line with that set out by Government vaccine advisers.
In September the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said care home residents and staff were among those who should be given the jab first.
The prioritisation for other people is linked to their age and risk, the JCVI said.
It appears that those who work in GP practices will also be among the first to receive the vaccine.
“The high priority groups will be vaccinated first, and as the vaccine becomes more available, practices will be able to provide this to increasing numbers,” the BMA document states.
As well as GPs and pharmacists delivering the vaccine, mass vaccination centres may also be used “in a similar way to testing centres”.
The NHS previously said that mass vaccination centres are being considered, as are the use of “roving teams” who deliver the vaccine to care homes and house bound patients.
The BMA said due to the logistics and delivery requirements, it’s likely that groups of GP practices will need to work together with one “designated vaccination site”.
“Working together, practices will need to be prepared to offer vaccinations seven days a week so that the vaccine is delivered within its short shelf-life and so patients receive it as soon as possible,” it added.
“Practices will need to work together to decide which one practice (or another appropriate site) is used for the vaccination site, remembering the need for provision to be potentially available 8am-8pm, seven days a week.”
GPs will be paid £12.58 per vaccine delivered and practices will be provided with the appropriate medical kit and personal protective equipment.
Responding to the positive news about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the BMA’s GP committee in England, said: “With their proven track record of mass immunisation campaigns and strong relationships within their communities, GPs, practice nurses and other key staff are the right people to be leading this campaign once vaccines become available.
“With a number of approval processes still to go, we are a long way from guaranteeing that vaccinations in local surgeries will begin in December – but practices, working together in their areas, will stand ready.”