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COVID-19 vaccine programme will need money and staff – RCN

Feasibility of coronavirus immunisation plan depends on adequate nurse numbers and training

Practice nurses will play a pivotal role in delivering the vaccine, but their numbers are depleted

Funding and adequate clinical staff will be needed to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine programme safely, said the RCN.

The college raised resourcing concerns after it emerged vaccinations could be under way in the UK by Christmas.

Practice nurses will be a central to the efficiency of any coronavirus vaccine programme

Much of the administration of a programme would fall to practice nurses, GPs and pharmacists.

Yet nursing teams in general practice have chronic short-staffing.

Practice nurses will play a pivotal role in delivering the vaccine, but their numbers are depleted

The Pfizer vaccine could be licensed for use in the coming months if it passes safety checks
Pfizer's experimental COVID-19 vaccine Picture: PA

Funding and adequate clinical staff will be needed to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine programme safely, said the RCN.

The college raised resourcing concerns after it emerged vaccinations could be under way in the UK by Christmas.

Practice nurses will be a central to the efficiency of any coronavirus vaccine programme

Much of the administration of a programme would fall to practice nurses, GPs and pharmacists.

Yet nursing teams in general practice have chronic short-staffing.

Helen Donovan Picture: Barney Newman

RCN public health professional lead, Helen Donovan said: ‘Nursing staff will be central to any roll out of a COVID-19 vaccination programme.

‘It is likely to be a huge undertaking and there must be enough resource, including funding and clinical staff, to deliver the programme successfully and safely.’

Hopes for mass immunisation in coming months

Hopes for an effective vaccine were raised after interim analysis of a potential candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech showed it was 90% effective in protecting people from virus transmission.

The UK government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and if safety standards are met, the first phase of vaccinations would involve 10 million doses being given to people including front-line healthcare workers in two stages, 21 days apart.

Programme on this scale requires planning

Ms Donovan highlighted the importance of all staff having the training, education, support, and supervision to deliver the vaccine.

‘We need to be sure this vaccination programme is properly planned to ensure nursing staff can deliver it while maintaining the usual services that patients require,’ she said.

Designated vaccination hubs in GP surgeries

NHS England has told all primary care networks to designate practices as hubs capable of delivering vaccines 12 hours a day, including on bank holidays if needed.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said: ‘An enormous amount of planning has taken place. This includes putting in place logistical expertise, transport, personal protective equipment and an expanded workforce to ensure we can deploy vaccines rapidly once they have been approved by the medicines regulator.’

The spokesperson added the DHSC has provided GP practices with an additional £150 million.

A deployment plan will be published in due course, said the DHSC.



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