GPs have been forced to delay Covid vaccinations due to “patchy” arrival times with jab deliveries cancelled at the “last minute”.
NHS England pledged that GP services could begin to use the Oxford jabs from today – but some practices have reportedly stalled on administering the vaccine as access to the Pfizer jab was “patchy”.
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GP practices are forced to delay vaccinations after “patchy” deliveries of the Pfizer vaccineCredit: GETTY IMAGES
NHS England pledged that GP services could begin to use the Oxford jabs from todayCredit: GETTY IMAGES
And millions of Oxford-Astrazeneca doses cannot be delivered for use until they are given a final safety check by regulators.
The delay comes even though manufacturing for the vaccine was brought up to “full pace” months ago.
Public Health England said it would begin Sunday deliveries of the Oxford vaccine the moment supplies were in place after critics slammed a six-day vaccine service.
Simon Bradley, a partner at Concord Medical Centre in Bristol, told The Times: “We were due to get the first batch [of the Pfizer jab] on December 22 but at the last minute it was cancelled.
“Luckily we were cautious and had not booked people in but many practices had booked patients in and had to cancel them…
“The suggestion from politicians is there is lots of vaccine around but on the ground it feels there is an issue with supply.”
Castle Medical Centre and Abbey Medical Centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, both had to cancel appointments for over-80s last week because not enough doses arrived.
And a GP Dr Rosemary Leonard in south London wrote on Twitter: ‘We are raring to go, but have no vaccines. WHY?’
Two million Brits must be vaccinated every week to reach the government’s mid-February targerCredit: PA
Matt Hancock said regulation approval was the “rate-limiting factor” on vaccine roll-outsCredit: Associated Press
Chair of the BMA’s GP committee Richard Vaudry told The Times it was “crucial that practices are given greater certainty over delivery dates”.
After a month of administering the Pfizer vaccine, the UK has vaccinated 1.3 million people.
One in ten care home residents and one in seven care home workers have now received the jab.
But the speed of vaccinations will have to drastically increase to reach Boris Johnson’s target of inoculating 14million of the most vulnerable Brits by mid-February.
The ambitious aim means two million must be vaccinated every week in the UK.
Chairman of the Royal College of GPs Martin Marshall warned that to meet the target, “vaccine centres need a sustained supply of vaccine, and reliable information about when deliveries will be made, with as much notice as possible”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has insisted vaccine supply could happen “on all seven days” if necessary, and that no one had been short on vaccine because of the delivery schedule.
He said: “The current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine roll-out is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine.”
Roughly 3.5million doses of the Oxford vaccine are currently waiting to be approved by MHRA regulators.
Each batch of vaccines must be individually approved after an elaborate testing process.