Since we first published this report it has since been declared in the media that England’s GP services could be scaled back so doctors can immunise people against coronavirus at seven-day-a-week clinics.
Health leaders warned surgeries would not be able to offer a full range of care for patients from December due to the demand for jabs at mass vaccination centres.
In our estimations, this should spark care agencies to ensure that their staff are prepared for this news and they can find ways for their client’s residents to have access to the vaccine either at their local GP or if other measures will take place with residential care home on-site vaccine services.
UK health workers and qualified agency and clinical carers could start vaccinating Britons against Covid-19 as early as next month. The next steps following a successful certification of the Pfizer vaccine will include mass production, distribution and deployment, all of which could spur job opportunities just as the Lockdown is lifted.
Matt Hancock said he had asked the NHS to “be ready” to roll out doses of a new coronavirus vaccine “from the start of December”.
Speaking to Sky News after early trials showed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 90 per cent effective, he said it was “absolutely reasonable for people to see this as a step forward” in the fight against the virus. However, he was not able to provide a concrete date for vaccines to be deployed as testing and regulatory approval is still uncertain.
What the experts think
Prof Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, said of the Pfizer vaccine, “The primary efficacy being reported is based on symptomatic cases. So this does not tell us whether it prevents the same level of infections nor anything about onward transmission.
Dr Colin Butter, Associate Professor and Programme Leader in Bioveterinary Science, University of Lincoln, makes a similar observation.
“Presently there is no published data on whether the vaccine protects only against clinical disease or also prevents transmission to another individual. If the former, then individuals will be well protected but herd immunity won’t be reached,” he said.
Ghani said, “What the 90% efficacy means is that the number of symptomatic cases of COVID-19 per 1000 participants over a period of 7 days following the second vaccine dose is 90% lower in those that received the vaccine compared to those that received the placebo.
“It is not clear to me whether this is from the 18—55-year age-group or both that group and the 65-85 year group.”
Vaccine push a boon for cold-chain and distribution
“The vaccine requires to be kept at -70°C, which is beyond the capabilities of the usual cold storage and transport used for frozen goods,” said Butter. “This is not insurmountable and one hopes that plans have already been made for appropriate transportation and storage resources.”
However, Butter suggests that results of further trials including those, like the Oxford vaccine, could need less rigorous cold-chain, are would be “eagerly awaited.”
Cold chain distribution and storage companies alongside lorry drivers will be required to meet domestic and international demand for the vaccine in the short and long-term. Agencies catering to these segments should be contacting clients and potential clients about how they can prepare their candidate base ahead of any national vaccine initiatives this year and next.
BMA at the ready
The BMA GP committee England and NHSEI have agreed a DES or direct enhanced service for general practice to lead the delivery of the CVP (COVID-19 vaccination programme).
However, as a DES, it will be optional for practices to sign up to the service.
The intention is to prepare for a service to be delivered from 1 December, however the actual start date will depend on the availability of vaccines.
Similarly, the BMA has stated that vaccine availability is likely to be limited to begin with, meaning only small numbers of the vaccine may be given in December and most vaccinations taking place in early 2021, giving practices more time to prepare.
For the BMA’s guideline click here.
While the Pfizer revelations of an effective COVID-19 vaccine has brought hope, the undertaking of a global vaccine deployment initiative will require a variety of skill sets to see it through with success. There is no reason that contract and agency workers and freelancers cannot be part of this massive effort, if not at the very heart of it. If you anticipate you will be partaking in the vaccine deployment in any way, we’d love to hear and share your story.
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