Thursday, 28 Jan 2021

Coronavirus vaccine: Latest on vaccination process – ‘no driving until 15 minutes after’

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The British Medical Association (BMA) details guidance about what the COVID-19 vaccine service in England involves, who is likely to be on the priority list and when it’s likely to start.

Originally published on Tuesday, November 17 – and updated regularly – the BMA announced the vaccine programme is intended to begin on December 1.

However, “the actual start date will depend on the availability of vaccines,” clarified the BMA.

It’s expected vaccine availability will be “limited to begin with”, meaning most vaccinations will take place in early 2021.

Current information suggests the vaccine will “require two doses per patient”, ranging from 21 to 28 days apart.

Eligible patients will soon be confirmed, but they’re likely to include the following:

  • Those aged over 50
  • Those at high risk
  • Care home residents and staff
  • All health and care workers

The high priority group are in line to receive the vaccine first from their GP as the vaccine becomes more available.

Some “household patients” may be able to receive a vaccination via “home visits”.

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If GP coverage “is not enough”, local pharmacies may be commissioned to step in to administer the coronavirus jab.

GPs are expected to “offer vaccinations seven days a week” so that the vaccine is delivered within “its short shelf-life”; this includes Christmas Day.

It’s understood the vaccine will be delivered to GP centres defrosted, thus the vaccination will have a shelf-life of five days.

The latest information on the vaccine suggests “patients must not drive for 15 minutes after” vaccination.

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The minimum number of vaccinations a GP centre must administer is set to be “975 per week”.

At present, the vaccines will be going through testing procedures and MRHA (medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency) licencing process.

Confirmation of specific vaccines will be given following completion of trials and licencing approval.

“The Government will be liable for any adverse implications from a vaccine being put into supply,” confirmed the BMA.

The two vaccines likely to be supplied in the UK are the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“As these and other vaccines are developed and tested their characteristics might change,” said the BMA.

Pfizer vaccine

“Acts via mRNA and is likely to be the first vaccine available to practice,” confirmed the BMA.

Stored at -75c at the manufacturer, it can be stored at 2-8c once out the freezer, and needs to be used within five days.

Once diluted, the vaccine must be used within six hours. Two doses are required, 21 days apart (and can’t be given with seven days of a flu vaccination).

Potential side-effects include injection site discomfort, and patients can’t drive for 15 minutes afterwards.

AstraZenca vaccine

Stored at -80c at the manufacturer, it can be stored at 2-8c with a shelf life of six months.

Two doses are required, 28 days apart, and can’t be given within seven days of a flu vaccination.

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