While Matt Hancock implied yesterday’s bombshell letter was routine, Robert Jenrick this morning admitted the new supply issue will mean that the under 50s will face a month delay in receiving their jabs. The Secretary of State for Housing insisted to the BBC’s Today Programme that targets will still be met despite the hiccup. While the BBC is reporting an Indian shipment of five million AstraZeneca doses has been delayed by four weeks, Jenrick said no one delivery was to blame…
Ministers learned of some supply issues in the last few days, denting hopes of the fabled huge uplift in vaccine supply speeding up the roadmap. Overall, ministers are insisting that despite this dent, targets will still be met as room for manoeuvre was built in to the unlocking roadmap. Firmly blaming supply, Jenrick added this morning that:
“We have built the infrastructure to do far more, millions more jabs, but obviously there is finite supply and occasionally we will experience issues like this along the way. We have to handle that, we have to be as open and transparent as we can.”
The message from all corners of Government is that this isn’t something that anyone should be worried about. Under fifties now waiting a month longer than expected may have other thoughts…
Read last night’s bombshell NHS letter announcing a drop in supply below:
COVID-19 vaccination deployment next steps on uptake and supply
Following our letter to you on 2 March, we are writing to update you on the latest position on vaccine supply and deployment over the next six weeks.
From the start of the programme, the NHS has successfully had to adjust week-to-week vaccine delivery in the light of fluctuations in supply. As previously notified, pleasingly this week and next see significant increases in vaccine supply. However. the Government’s Vaccines Task Force have now notified us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March. meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained. They now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.
We have today opened up national booking to everyone aged 50 and over, so over this next period it is vital we focus on vaccinating those in cohorts 1 – 9. who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as delivering to the agreed schedule significantly increased numbers of second doses, which double from the beginning of April.
Maximising uptake in Cohorts 1 to 9
We are asking systems to renew efforts. working with local authorities. the voluntary, community and faith sectors and other local partners to ensure maximum cohort penetration. offering and re-offering vaccinations to those in Cohort 1 to 9.
Guidance published in February on ‘pop up centres’ allows local systems to set up temporary mobile vaccination clinics in areas with lower uptake rates. at places of worship and other community settings where those from eligible cohorts who have not presented at fixed vaccination sites may feel more welcome.
Local systems will also want to consider dedicated sessions for groups with specific access requirements. extend visits to housebound patients and schedule second or third care home visits. ensuring those at greatest risk have access to the vaccine.
STPs and ICS should also consider how the £4.2m non-recurring funding announced on 24 February to further support and enable locally led community engagement on vaccine confidence can be used to support this activity. The letter setting out the funding arrangements can be found here https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/supporting-ccgs-to-address-vaccine-inequalities/
Appendix I includes a series of system-led interventions that have improved vaccine uptake and a webinar to share peer learning will be scheduled for next week and details on how to register will be shared.
Inviting patients outside of cohorts 1— 9 is only permissible in exceptional circumstances. Those aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccination unless they are eligible via a higher cohort because they are e.g.. clinically vulnerable. unpaid carer or frontline health and care workers. To ensure prioritisation compliance with minimum wastage. vaccination services working with their system must with immediate effect:
Now we have opened vaccination to cohorts 1-9. it is very important we focus our efforts on reaching as many of these groups as possible whilst administering second doses. We must take this time to deliver protection to the most vulnerable.
From today, the supply constraint means vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services should close unfilled bookings from the week commencing 29 March and ensure no further appointments are uploaded to the National Booking System or Local Booking Systems from 1 to 30 April. More detailed guidance is being issued directly to providers to support this action.
Revised vaccine supply is likely to result in a reduction in workforce demand in hospital hubs and vaccination centres. We are asking systems to start planning now about how they will deploy staff to alternative settings to support increased cohort penetration.