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NHSE extend vaccine priority to immuno-suppressed households

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said people over the age of 16 who are living with an adult with a weakened immune system – including but not limited to those who have blood cancer, HIV or are having immunosuppressive treatment such as chemotherapy – should be prioritised for their vaccine.

In a letter to GP Practices last week, Nikki Kanani, Medical Director for Primary Care and Ed Waller, the Director of Primary Care for NHSE, advised Practices to prioritise those people living with severely immunosuppressed people to be prioritised on a move that is hoped to limit the spread of Covid-19 and their increased risk of infection.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: “The vaccination programme has so far seen high vaccine uptake and very encouraging results on infection rates, hospitalizations, and mortality, yet we know that the vaccine isn’t as effective in those who are immunosuppressed.

“Our latest advice will help reduce the risk of infection in those who may not be able to fully benefit from being vaccinated themselves.”

Identifying priority groups

Practices are asked to identify patients in this category who are at a high risk as recent evidence from the JCVI suggested they may not respond as well to the Covid-19 vaccines as others. With growing evidence that vaccination reduced the transmission of the virus, the JCVI said that the latest advice will help reduce the risk of infection in those who may not fully benefit from being vaccinated themselves.

Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said: ‘Our surveillance systems and research studies are showing that the Covid-19 vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infection and limit transmission of the virus. By vaccinating those who live with immunosuppressed adults, we can further help protect vulnerable people.’

The letter from NHS England advised GP Practices and CCGs to;

  • Identify individuals who fall into the Green Book definition of ‘severely immunosuppressed’.
  • Write to these individuals that their adult household contacts
  • Book a vaccination appointment for household contacts of severely immunosuppressed people, and they should then be invited to attend the PCN-led Local Vaccination Services (LVS) site.

The JCVI has not made the same recommendation about family members of children who are immunosuppressed, or children under the age of 16 who live with immunosuppressed adults.

In response to changes in vaccine supply for the UK, there are also changes introduced to the National Booking System from the 1st April, meaning that eligible frontline health and social care workers and carers who are not registered will need to use alternative routes, including PCN-led local vaccination services.

A copy of the letter can be found here, which also includes a template letter that Practices can adapt when contacting patients who are immunosuppressed and their carers or adult household members.

 


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