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GP COVID-19 update 3 December: Booster jabs, vaccination in pregnancy, Omicron

The latest guidance on COVID-19 for GP practices.

Close up of a person receiving the COVID-19 booster vaccine
(Picture: SOPA Images/Getty Images)

COVID-19 booster vaccinations

The JCVI has recommended the COVID-19 booster campaign should expand immediately to people aged 18-39.

The updated advice says booster vaccination should continue to be rolled out 'in order of descending age groups' and prioritising those in at-risk groups, but shortens the timescale within which booster doses can be offered – they can now be given three months after the second dose, rather than the previously recommended six months before.

Patients with severe immunosuppression who have received three doses as part of their primary course can also be offered a booster jab three months after their third dose.

At a press conference on 30 November prime minister Boris Johnson announced that everyone aged over 18 would be offered a booster jab by the end of January, with roll out to happen by age group. NHS England also announced that primary care vaccination sites will now be paid £15 per booster delivered on a weekday, with an additional £5 for those provided on a Sunday. They will also receive £30 for each booster jab delivered to housebound patients.

As yet there is no official guidance from NHS England on how the roll out will work and the national booking system is still only allowing those over 40 to book appointments at six months after they received their second dose.

The JCVI recommendations are here.

Second jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds

The JCVI advice above also recommends that 12- to 15-year-olds receive a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is currently recommending a 12-week gap between doses, but this could be cut to eight weeks if emerging data supports this. If this happens the gap between doses for 16 and 17 year olds will also be cut to eight weeks.

Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination

The UK Health Security Agency has issued guidance for healthcare professionals on recognising and managing rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following a COVID-19 vaccination.

The guidance says that as of 17 November 2021, there have been 432 reports of myocarditis and 332 reports of pericarditis following the use of the Pfizer vaccine. There have been 101 reports of myocarditis and 57 reports of pericarditis following the use of the Moderna vaccine.

The guidance sets out concerning symptoms that may require further recommendations and advises that any patients thought to be experiencing this should be seen face to face. If patients have mild symptoms they do not need to referred to secondary care, it says.

The full guidance is here.

COVID-19 and flu vaccines in pregnant women

NHS England has sent guidance to practices asking them to 'make every contact count' with pregnant women by advising them of the benefits of COVID-19 and flu vaccination.

The letter is here. A leaflet from the UK Health Security Agency explaining COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant and breastfeeding women is here. Information about the COVID-19  vaccine from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives is here.

Omicron rule changes

As a result of the Omicron variant anyone coming into the UK from overseas is required to take a PCR test within two days of their return. NHS staff should not return to work until they have received the result of this test. NHS staff are also now required to take a lateral flow test every day for 10 days after their return to the UK.

The CAS letter from the CMO explaining these changes is here.

COVID-19 guidance tracker

Don't forget that our COVID-19 GP guidance tracker provides a list of guidance relevant to GP practices in an easy-to-search format. The tracker is regularly updated and you can find it here.

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