Members to receive a verbal update on the status of the Covid 19 vaccination programme.
Members received a presentation update on the ongoing situation with Covid 19 vaccination programme and plans for Autumn/Winter.
Caroline Trevithick and Kay Darby of Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland CCG’s presented the update on the Covid 19 vaccination programme.
In relation to the completion of the spring booster campaign:
· Boosters had been available since March 2022 and all eligible cohorts had been invited to take up vaccination by end June 2022,
· A downsized summer plan had been put in place to continue vaccination until end August 2022 to allow for preparation of an integrated Autumn/Winter campaign.
· It was recognised vaccination rates had dropped and campaigns for other vaccines had been affected.
· Catch up campaigns for other vaccines were being organised and local commissioners had been asked to consider how these could be supported throughout the summer.
Regarding the Integrated Autumn/Winter campaign:
· Currently 65+ and at risk cohorts would be invited.
· Flu planning guidance had been in place from April 2022.
· Contingency planning was taking place for rapid deployment in the event of any surge. Surge plans were aimed at limiting the effect on primary care providers.
Members discussed the update which included the following points:
As far as the future vaccination and immunisation strategy was concerned health partners were building on the successes of the Covid-19 programme in partnership with public health colleagues.
As for uptake of the vaccine, 5-11 year olds were still increasing as a new cohort but uptake had been slower. The Spring campaign had an uptake of 4.1% and would continue to focus on groups through summer where needed.
Concerns were raised that drop in centres were not easily accessible for elderly or those who can’t travel, and that the vaccine was not available at all GP surgeries.
Regarding availability at GP surgeries, it was noted the vaccine was available at some GP surgeries and as primary care was returning to business as usual there was a wider network becoming available for vaccinations as well as the community pharmacy network. Gaps in provision would continue to be targeted with pop up or proactive events such as at the Horse Fayre, Carnival and Pride.
In relation to the flu vaccine, booking teams and GP surgeries should contact those eligible for vaccines. There was still some work to do on logistics of administering the flu and covid vaccines together as not all GP surgeries were administering the covid vaccine. There was no obligation for people to have both or at the same time and people could elect which one they have or not.
Efficacy of the vaccine was queried, and concern raised that if it lasted only 6 months those receiving boosters at beginning of year would have waning immunity and having to wait until Autumn was a risk that might lead to a surge. Members noted that the clinical effectiveness and booster programmes were subject to national guidance which guided there being a minimum gap between vaccination of 91 days.
Members noted that from Autumn a planned national standard would be put in place for a minimum requirement for geographical coverage over a 10 mile radius. Members were concerned that such a standard alongside the vaccine not being available in all GP surgeries could amount to a long difficult journey for the elderly or most vulnerable, especially in rural areas where public transport could not always be relied upon.
Kay Darby explained that whilst the vaccine was available in some surgeries the GPs had a choice to opt out of delivery so there was no guarantee it would be at everyone’s GP surgery. There also remained the issue of proper storage for the vaccines which had to be kept at a certain low temperature. It was advised the number of GPs and pharmacies providing the vaccine would be increasing. As for geographical coverage although the 10 mile radius was a national standard in the city the radius was not likely to be more than 1 mile wide. Members suggested that local areas should determine the radius and for health partners to note the issues facing rural communities in terms of access and lack of public transport.
The Chair commented that the vaccination programme was a big undertaking and appreciated the strong feelings of the committee on the subject and suggested that more work be done with public health colleagues to ensure vaccines were made available where needed.
The Chair requested more detailed information on how the vaccination programme would be delivered and how the messages around that would be made clearer for the public.
1. That the contents of the report be noted,
2. That more detailed information on how the vaccination programme shall be delivered and how the messages around that would be made clearer for the public to be provided outside of this meeting for Members.