GPonline understands that primary care staff were told during a webinar on Wednesday that 72% of vaccine sent out through the NHS supply chain had gone to local vaccination sites.
A total of 5,437,284 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in England by the end of 20 January, according NHS data – suggesting that around 4m were in primary care.
Of the doses of vaccine administered in England by 20 January, 4,973,248 were first doses, and 464,036 second doses.
Analysis by GPonline shows that in England around six in 10 patients aged over 80 had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 17 January – a figure that will have risen in the following days.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said this week: ‘GPs and our teams – along with colleagues across the NHS – are working incredibly hard to vaccinate patients, starting with those most vulnerable to the virus, and we’re making good progress.’
Official data also show significant variation across England in the proportion of patients over 80 who have been vaccinated – and NHS officials have said supplies will be stopped next week to some areas where most progress has been made to focus on bringing areas that have fallen behind up to speed.
Professor Marshall backed this approach but warned that GP-led vaccination sites must not face last-minute delivery cancellations or changes. He said: ‘GP teams are vaccinating according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s priority list.
COVID-19 vaccine priority
‘If vaccine supplies are being diverted to areas where there is a higher proportion of higher priority patients not yet vaccinated, then that makes sense to ensure equity across the country – but practices need clear, reliable and timely communication about when to expect vaccine deliveries, and any last minute changes to plans should be minimised.
‘Meticulous planning is going into running this programme, and when these are forced to change at the last minute, it is frustrating for staff and confusing and disappointing for patients.’
The college said this week that GPs should ignore any calls to throw away usable doses of COVID-19 vaccine – and official statistics on vaccinations suggest vaccinators have continued to make practical decisions to administer second- as well as first-dose jabs where necessary to use up vaccine supplies.
Official data show that 72,637 second-dose jabs have been administered in the past 10 days despite NHS advice that all available vaccine should be used to give as many patients as possible a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccination enhanced service specification makes clear that GPs can use their discretion to avoid wasting vaccine. It says: ‘Vaccination will be permitted to patients outside of the announced cohort where the GP practice can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, that it is clinically appropriate and where resources would otherwise have been wasted.’