Last reviewed 22 June 2022

NHS England has called on GP practices to help find immunosuppressed patients who are yet to have their spring Covid-19 booster vaccine, as it is not possible to run a national search for eligible individuals.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised UK Governments that over-75s, care home residents and over-12s who are immunosuppressed should receive an additional Covid-19 booster vaccine from spring 2022, as immunity derived from vaccination “declines over time” and many of the oldest adults received their last vaccine dose in September or October 2021.

Latest surveillance data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show rising numbers of Covid-19 outbreaks and positive tests nationally, and hospital admission rates for Covid-19 increasing to 6.10 per 100,000 population compared with 4.65 in the previous week. An increase in outbreaks is evident within care homes and in hospitalisations among those aged 80 years and over.

The action announced for GPs is part of the “additional urgent steps” now required to ensure that all remaining immunosuppressed individuals who are eligible receive a booster during the Covid-19 spring campaign, together with asking GPs to send invites to those who have not yet had a fourth dose, and discussing vaccination and booking appointments with eligible patients during routine clinical care.

A PRIMIS search, developed by the UKHSA and now available in GP IT systems, should be used to identify patients. However, this search is not exhaustive, so local searches may also be needed to find additional people not listed. This, NHS England said, was due to issues with coding.

Those practices that have not signed up to the Covid-19 vaccination enhanced service should share a list of eligible patients identified through the searches with their clinical commissioning group by 23 June.

Practices are asked to contact those identified by the search function or local searches of their registered list to offer the booster jab by 27 June. Those who are eligible should be invited to book an appointment using the National Booking Service or by attending a walk-in service.

The JCVI also recently recommended another autumn booster vaccine for some at-risk groups and frontline health and social care workers, with interim guidance saying this would include the over 65s and those aged 64 and under but in a clinical risk group.

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