Last reviewed 6 April 2021

NHS England has written to GP practices asking them to identify immunosuppressed patients and write to inform them that their adult household members are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

This follows the Government acceptance of a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to prioritise household members of those with a weakened immune system. They have now been added to Covid-19 vaccination priority Cohort 6.

The JCVI said the advice, here, comes in light of “growing evidence that the vaccines may reduce the chance of someone who has been vaccinated passing the virus on”.

For this reason, targeting household members for vaccination would limit the spread of the virus to immunosuppressed adults.

The definition given for “adult household contacts” is the same as that used in the Green Book, being “individuals who expect to share living accommodation on most days…and therefore, for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable”.

This covers individuals aged 16 years or over only. Household contacts aged 16 to 17 will need to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has only been authorised for use in people aged 18 years and over.

A template letter is provided for GPs to use, which asks severely immunosuppressed individuals to let their household contacts know that they are eligible for vaccination and that they should contact their registered GP practice.

Household members will need to bring the letter and their own proof of address “which must match that of the immunosuppressed individual” to their appointment. This should be requested on arrival.

NHS England’s letter to GPs is available at https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2021/03/C1228-Vaccination-of-adult-household-contacts-of-severely-immunosuppressed_31mar.pdf