Community pharmacy vaccine sites could be used to provide severely immunosuppressed patients with a third dose — or ‘top up’ — of the Covid vaccine, NHS England has said today (3 September). 

NHSE has said that prescribers including GPs will be delivering the vaccine to the cohort of eligible patients. But, it is ‘exploring’ ways of giving patients the option of getting jabbed with an ‘alternative provider or delivery model where required’ such as a community pharmacy or vaccine centre.   

Earlier this week, it was announced that around 500,000 people with ‘severely weakened immune systems’ would be offered a third dose of the Covid vaccine, following new JCVI advice. 

The JCVI recommended that this should include patients over 12 who were ‘severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants’.  

GPs and consultants have been asked to begin to identify patients who are in the JCVI’s definition as being eligible for a third primary dose.  

In a letter sent to NHS staff yesterday (2 September), the body did say that ‘currently’ the third dose vaccines will be administered by the ‘PSD’ and ‘therefore only those with a prescriber on site will be able to administer third primary doses.’ 

‘We are looking into updating the PGD / national protocol and will issue further advice in due course on how this might work,’ it also said.  

Eligible patients will begin to receive their vaccines on 13 September as part of a ‘coordinated approach’ between primary and secondary care, the letter said. 

This vaccine rollout is separate from the booster plan, for which details are still being decided by the JCVI.  

The autumn booster programme is provisionally due to begin on 6 September, with phases one and two due to end on the 31 October to ensure pharmacies have time to offer the first two doses of the vaccine to all adults in England.  

In July, NHS England said that community pharmacies will be expected to deliver 3.5 million vaccines per week over the booster period.