Last reviewed 10 November 2020

The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are to be given £150 million to support GP practices with the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, and the programme should be ready for 1 December, although the actual start date will depend on the availability of vaccines.

Under a deal agreed by the BMA General Practitioners Committee (GPC), a single “nominated prac-tice” in each local area across England will deliver Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as they become available.

UK Vaccine Taskforce Chair, Kate Bingham, confirmed that two vaccine trials are due to report be-fore the end of the year, and new legislation means the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) can give these a temporary license for immediate distribution.

The UK is having 4 million doses manufactured of the vaccine being developed by Astra Zeneca and the University of Oxford before the end of this year, and 10 million doses of the vaccine being devel-oped in the US by Pfizer. Kate Bingham added that the Government will likely have “more vaccines than we’re going to be able to deploy”.

NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, acknowledged the “logistical challenges” for GPs as both of the vaccines require patients to have two doses and one of them needs to be stored at -70c.

GPs will be paid £12.58 per Covid-19 vaccine administered but will only be paid after the second of the two doses, according to the new Directed Enhanced Service (DES) for the campaign. Patients will need to be kept under clinical supervision for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccination and there will need to be a 21–28-day gap between the two doses for the vaccines that are currently close to being approved. Practices will also be paid for vaccinating their own staff.

BMA GPC Chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, said that, despite workload implications, GPs are “absolutely the right people” to lead on the vaccination campaign, with their proven track record in delivering widespread vaccination campaigns such as this year’s flu programme. In the first instance, GPs will be expected to work together in their local area, initially with vaccinations taking place at one site which will probably be a nominated practice.

The Human Medicine (Coronavirus and Influenza) (Amendment) Regulations 2020s mean a wider range of the workforce can be suitably trained to administer the Covid-19 injections.

GPs across England will have until 13 November to nominate a practice in each primary care network (PCN) area to lead a Covid-19 vaccination programme, which could start from 1 December and oper-ate seven days a week.

Practices that apply to take part will be assessed by their CCG on whether the nominated site meets a set of specified criteria including vaccine storage, site safety, planning and co-ordination, vaccine wastage, space, data collection and reporting.

They will be asked to prepare to give the vaccine to over-85s and frontline workers from the start of December. Simon Stevens said the NHS would also set up “mass vaccination centres” to administer some vaccine doses, with Nightingale hospital sites and other locations to be brought into play.

The consultation on the regulations, Changes to Human Medicine Regulations to Support the Rollout of Covid-19 Vaccines, which closed on 18 September 2020, is available at www.gov.uk