Hundreds of GP practices across the country are taking receipt of their first Covid-19 vaccine batches, with vaccinations of priority groups to begin immediately.
Hundreds of local vaccination services run by family doctors and their teams are set to open across England, forming the largest part of the national NHS immunisation programme – the biggest in NHS history.
Practices in more than 100 parts of the country are receiving delivery of the carefully transported vaccine, with some beginning clinics as early as later that same day.
Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff will work alongside GPs to vaccinate those aged 80 and over, as well as care home workers and residents, identified as priorities groups for the life-saving vaccine.
Residents of care homes in England will also receive their first vaccine later this week after distributors finalised new, stringent processes to ensure safe delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Just as hospital staff did the week prior, general practice teams are working rapidly to redesign their sites and put safe processes in place to meet the logistical challenges of offering the vaccination – with the vaccine requiring storage and transportation in a cold chain, maintaining temperature at around -70C.
Due to limited supply and high demand, the NHS is currently contacting people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS Director of Primary Care and a practicing GP, said: “GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other primary care staff are eager to play their part in protecting people against coronavirus.
“This is the greatest vaccination programme ever undertaken by the NHS and, to help vaccinate people safely we will be working with local communities to deliver it in convenient and familiar settings.
“As a GP I am proud to be part of this huge national effort to protect our patients against the virus and I would urge the public to come forward when they are called up for the vaccine.”
The latest phase of the vaccine roll-out is being co-ordinated by GP-led primary care networks with more practices and community pharmacies in other parts of England joining on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), added: “GPs and our teams are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the community whilst also delivering the expanded flu vaccine programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.
“There are also logistical challenges but general practice has an excellent track record of delivering mass vaccination programmes, and we want to use this experience to help protect people from Covid-19 and start getting life back to normal again.”