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Observational time after jab could be scrapped in ‘next few days’, says CMO

long covid

By Sofia Lind and Isabel Shaw

14 Dec 2021

The requirement for patients to stay behind for a 15-minute observation period after their Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccination could be scrapped in the ‘next few days’.

Speaking at an all-systems briefing on the stepping up of the booster programme over the next few weeks, UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the CMOs ‘have been looking at this repeatedly over the weekend’ and ‘consulting with others’, ‘including, importantly, MHRA’.

This comes as NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said last week that MHRA had given a ‘clear steer’ that the observational time requirement was not being scrapped ‘at this time’.

However, since the then Prime Minister announced the ‘turbo-charged’ booster vaccination programme, with the online briefing seeing numerous delegates asking whether the requirement would be lifted so that footfall at vaccination centres could be increased.

Professor Whitty said that the medical experts are ‘looking at the potential risks on anaphylaxis’ and ‘trying to balance risk’.

And he added: ‘I think we are now getting to a point where I think everybody’s kind of lined up at the same place. I hope that will happen over the next few days.’

He said that ‘as soon as there is a clear decision’ this ‘will be communicated, because we all are aware of the operational issues it causes’.

This comes as Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies called on NHS England to reduce the observation period post-vaccine could be reduced.

‘Reducing the observation time will free up a lot of staff time and space in pharmacy vaccination sites – this will allow pharmacy teams to increase the number of vaccinations and accelerate the programme. 

She added: ‘We have discussed this with NHSE and are awaiting a decision from them soon.’

The observation period was introduced in the first week of the vaccine rollout, following news that two healthcare professionals that were vaccinated on the first day with the Pfizer vaccine suffered an allergic reaction.

It does not apply to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, but pharmacists giving patients the Moderna jab must also observe them for at least 15 minutes.

In June, The Pharmacist reported there had been an increase in the number of people from younger cohorts fainting after receiving their Covid vaccine, which some vaccinators attributed to anxiety and the recent hot weather.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister website, Pulse.


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