Pharmacy-led Covid vaccination sites are due to start vaccinating patients in priority group five this week, while GPs have been told to focus on cohort six, according to NHS England.

In a letter to local vaccination sites (13 February), NHS England said PCN sites should ‘focus their efforts’ on inviting people in cohort six, which includes patients aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions, including carers and young adults in residential settings.

Meanwhile, cohort five patients – those aged 65 to 69 – ‘will shortly start receiving an invitation from the national booking service (NBS) to attend a vaccination centre or community pharmacy setting’, it said.

The letter added: ‘PCN sites may still vaccinate patients in this cohort and be paid for doing so should a patient request an appointment.’

NHS England also advised that ‘in some cases’ community pharmacies may be asked to deliver vaccinations in care homes for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems, or in hotel and hostel accommodation for the homeless, ‘where it would not be possible for these patients to attend vaccination sites’.

It added that PCN groupings should work with CCGs, ICSs, local authorities and other partners to establish ‘the most effective ways’ of delivering vaccinations to these groups.

15 February target met

This comes as prime minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (14 February) that the Government had met its target of offering the vaccine to the first four priority cohorts – around 15 million patients – by 15 February, a day early.   

Figures released yesterday showed that 13,165,548 people had been vaccinated in England, of which 12,675,663 were first doses of a Covid vaccine.

Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the milestone showed ‘just how hard’ healthcare staff are working in the fight against coronavirus.

‘Pharmacists across hospital, GP practice and community sites have stepped up to support the delivery of this programme and we are immensely proud of the professionalism shown across our profession,’ she said.

‘As more people become eligible to receive vaccines in the coming weeks, pharmacists will continue to play a vital role in the programme as well as encouraging uptake, particularly in communities where there are significant health challenges.’

She added: ‘There is still some way to go in this pandemic but the whole of the pharmacy workforce is working hard to support the nation’s health.’

Earlier this month (4 February), NHS England also announced that pharmacy sites will receive an extra £10 for every housebound patient they vaccinate against Covid-19.

In full: Priority groups for Covid vaccination

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  7. all those 60 years of age and over
  8. all those 55 years of age and over
  9. all those 50 years of age and over

Source: JCVI