To support protecting care home residents and other vulnerable people against Covid-19, the newly-approved Oxford vaccine is now being rolled out general practice services.
As is standard practice for any new vaccine, initial vaccinations were being trialled at select hospitals for surveillance purposes, and to be best position in the unlikely event of unexpected adverse reactions, prior to being sent out to hundreds of community-based local vaccination services.
The Oxford vaccine has been identified as a key part of the UK’s vaccination programme, particularly in community settings, due to its less stringent storage requirements compared with the previously approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Whereas the latter requires storage at ultra-low temperatures, approximately -70C, and requires specialised cold chain storage processes to be in place, the Oxford vaccine can be safely and effectively transported and stored within traditional medical refrigerated supply chains.
Hundreds of new vaccination sites have been opened this week at hospitals and in the community as part of this next phase of the national vaccination programme – the largest in NHS history.
These add to the existing 700 sites already up and running around the country.
Among the new sites are seven vaccination centres, a number of further sites at hospitals, GP-led services and a number of pilot pharmacy vaccine services.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS Medical Director for Primary Care, said: “The biggest vaccination programme in NHS history is already off to a strong start with around one million people already vaccinated against Coronavirus – this is a credit to our exceptional NHS staff.
“GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to be able to launch almost 200 more sites this week.
“Combined with the arrival of the Oxford vaccine, we will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster.”
The rollout to GP services today comes after the vaccine was approved for use outside of hospitals by the four Chief Medical Officers and NHS England’s Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis.
As care home residents cannot typically travel to hospital for the vaccine jab and due to its storage requirements, the Pfizer vaccine is difficult to transport to patients’ settings in the community, the announcement that the Oxford vaccine can now be used outside of hospital settings will help significantly speed up the drive to vaccinate this high priority group.