NHS England has clarified its plans to vaccinate all frontline NHS staff against COVID-19, saying its aim is to have made “significant progress in immunising all frontline staff by the first week of February.” Uptake will be continuously monitored.
From the middle of January, all NHS Trusts will be able to provide vaccinations for local healthcare and social care workers, which will be critical in keeping both them and patients safe.
The life-saving jab will be offered to all staff across NHS services, including those who work in general practices, pharmacies, dentists and other primary and secondary care settings. It will also be available to ambulance trusts, volunteers and all independent providers, such as community-based mental health services.
Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) will co-ordinate the details for all staff on how and when to get their jab, and local vaccination centres will also be able to deliver jabs at short notice in order to prevent wastage. The NHS will ensure CCGs have a full list of providers, including independent and private services. For example, private sector dentists registered with the CQC, which the NHS has access to.
Clinics will be scaled up to enable vaccinations to take place seven days a week and health and social care workers will be invited to book appointments.
The vaccination of workers will be prioritised based on local risk assessments, which will consider factors such as face-to-face contact time, underlying health conditions and whether people are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, all of which are proven risk factors.
Ensuring widespread vaccine coverage among those most at risk in the NHS workforce will be an important factor in reducing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 presents.
Chief People Officer Prerana Issar says: “Immunising healthcare workers will both prevent them from becoming ill and colleagues from being required to self-isolate, enhancing the ability of the NHS to provide an excellent service. Hospital hubs will need to facilitate appointments for outside of peak times and at weekends for those workers who are only available at those hours.”
The NHS Confederation has welcomed the clarity provided by this guidance. Chief Executive, Danny Mortimer, says: “There has been a significant increase in staff absences relating to COVID-19, and staff are rightly very concerned about how they could work safely. It is essential that staff are vaccinated as soon as possible, not just so that they can get back to work, but because it is a basic principle that we should do our utmost to protect the NHS’ best assets: our people.
“It will be logistically challenging to implement on top of so many existing pressures, and the timescales are ambitious, but we need our staff to be protected from infection and hopefully remain COVID-free.”