Pharmacy-led Covid vaccination sites may be involved in delivering vaccines to 5–11-year-olds in some areas to ensure ‘sufficient coverage’ across the country.
In a letter sent to vaccine sites last month (23 December) NHS England said that some community pharmacy-led sites and vaccination centres may be commissioned where required to ensure ‘sufficient coverage’ subject to ‘assurance checks,’ it said.
It comes after the Government recently accepted JCVI advice that vulnerable children over five should be offered a Covid vaccine, among other groups.
This includes children aged 5-11 who are in a clinical risk group or a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed.
The letter said that all PCN-led sites are ‘encouraged’ to help vaccinate ‘this small, vulnerable group’.
However, it said that sites, including GP practices, can choose to opt-out of vaccinating this cohort by 14 January 2022.
Therefore ‘some vaccination centers and community pharmacy-led sites may be commissioned where required to ensure sufficient coverage, subject to assurance checks,’ it said.
Pharmacy-led vaccine sites asked to participate in this part of the programme will not be required to change their permit to vaccinate these cohorts once NHS England has advised the start date, they added.
The JCVI also recommended last month that all 16-17s, as well as 12-15s who are clinically vulnerable, a household contact of an immunosuppressed person or themselves ‘severely immunosuppressed’ and having had a third primary dose, should be offered a Covid booster jab.
They should receive 30 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of Covid vaccinations, it said.
According to the JCVI advice, eligible 5-11 year-olds should be offered two 10 micrograms doses of the Pfizer vaccine with an interval of 8 weeks between the first and second doses.
The JCVI also advised that booster vaccination should also be offered to some young people between 12-17 years old.
The advice read: ‘Prioritisation of booster vaccination within eligible cohorts should generally be in the order of descending age groups, or clinical risk, whichever is more expedient.
‘Boosting of children in clinical risk groups should commence after the equivalent clinical risk adult groups; higher age is independently associated with a higher risk of complications from Covid-19 and these adults will have received their primary vaccinations earlier in the vaccine programme.’
Further advice on Covid jabs for other 5-11s ‘will be issued in due course following consideration of additional data’, it said.