A ‘national vaccination service’ could be considered, health secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs.

Speaking at a House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee hearing this week, Mr Javid suggested the service could cover ‘other vaccines’ as well as Covid jabs.

Mr Javid told MPs that the approach will be set out in more detail in the elective recovery plan, due ‘in the next few weeks’.

The hearing heard MP Dr Luke Evans, who is also a GP, ask Mr Javid about his approach to NHS being ‘able to scale back up again’ – as it has been forced to do in response to Omicron – noting that it is a ‘tough ask for the staff and the NHS in itself’.

Mr Javid replied that ‘it is a huge ask’, adding that the elective recovery plan will ‘set out’ how the NHS can prepare for ‘living with Covid’, including when it comes to vaccination drives.

Responding to the question from the perspective of general practice, Mr Javid said: ‘What we can’t have every time we’re trying to encourage people to take a Covid vaccine is, we can’t ask GPs to stop doing their regular work. We can’t have that.

‘That can be an emergency response now, but in the future, we’ve got to have a national vaccination service that is able to deal with Covid vaccines as well as other vaccines without drawing in workforce from the rest of the NHS.

‘That’s one thing and the same applies, by the way, to making use of antivirals and testing and having a separate process to deal with that.’

Asked if the service could handle routine vaccinations as well as pandemic emergencies, the Department of Health and Social Care told Pulse the plans were ‘yet to be decided’.

This comes as data was released showing that London pharmacies alone administered over 5 million Covid vaccines last year.

Pharmacy teams have been praised by the Prime Minister for their contribution to the Covid vaccine rollout during the pandemic.

A version of this article was first published by The Pharmacist’s sister title Pulse.