GPs ‘to be put on standby in case of December Covid vaccine rollout’

By Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent
·2-min read

GPs are to be put on standby in case of a potential Covid-19 vaccine rollout beginning in December, reports suggest.

GP magazine Pulse reported that family doctors are going to be told to be prepared to start vaccinating over-85s and frontline workers from early December.

Work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare for any potential Covid vaccine and how it could be rolled out.

Pulse reported that GPs will receive a “directed enhanced service” (DES) from next week which sets out how they deliver a service above their usual contract.

A lady uses hand sanitiser in Guildford, Surrey
A lady uses hand sanitiser in Guildford, Surrey (Adam Davy/PA)

It has been told the DES on a potential Covid vaccine rollout is “imminent, potentially by next week”.

There are two frontrunners in the Covid-19 vaccine race – candidates from German biotech firm BioNtech and US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the vaccine candidate being developed by University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.

Both vaccine candidates are currently in phase three clinical trials.

Before any vaccine comes to the market, regulators have to confirm they are safe and effective.

It has been suggested that regulators could be getting clinical data within weeks.

The committee which advises the Government on vaccines has already set out the priority groups who should receive any vaccine first.

According to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, older adults resident in a care home and care home workers should be the first to be given any approved vaccine.

Then all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers are next on the priority list.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “While there are no certainties in the development, production, and timing of new vaccines, there is a possibility a Covid-19 vaccine could be available in the UK in the first part of 2021.

“It will only be rolled out once proven to be safe and effective through robust clinical trials and approved by medicines regulator the MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency).

“Once approved, the NHS stands ready to begin the vaccination programme to those most at risk, before being rolled out more widely.”

A spokesperson for the NHS said: “The NHS has well-established plans for delivering vaccinations across the country including the annual flu jab and children’s immunisations and work is under way to build on these tried and tested approaches, so that when a vaccine is ready, staff can deliver it safely.”