COVID-19 Vaccination Service

Published on: 30th June 2022 | Updated on: 22nd July 2022

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1,500 community pharmacy sites have been vaccinating patients and health and care workers under a Local Enhanced Service against coronavirus alongside vaccination centres, hospitals and Primary Care Network (PCN) sites.

From autumn 2022, the service will be commissioned as a National Enhanced Service (NES). This page provides a summary of the current situation and provides links to additional information on the service.


Final JCVI C-19 autumn vaccine advice

Final Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice today (15th July 2022) confirms that the COVID-19 Autumn booster should be offered to the following groups:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults;
  • Frontline health and social care workers;
  • All adults aged 50 years and over;
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book;
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression; and
  • Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.

Read a full copy of the advice


C-19 vac autumn booster programme

NHS England has published the draft service specification for the 2022/23 Community Pharmacy National Enhanced Service COVID-19 vaccination programme (phase 5).

Publication of this document formally started the countdown to the commencement of the autumn booster vaccination programme on Thursday 1st September 2022. It also marked the start of the application process for contractors who would like to be commissioned as a vaccination site for this coming vaccination phase.

Find out more

NHSE&I announcement on the autumn 2022 booster programme


JCVI interim C-19 autumn 2022 vaccination advice

The JCVI has published interim advice regarding COVID-19 booster doses this autumn.

Find out more

Read the JCVI interim advice on the COVID-19 autumn vaccination programme (20th May 2022)


Click on the header below for more information. 

Introduction

Following accelerated development and testing there are now six vaccines for COVID-19 that have been authorised for use in the UK.

The characteristics of the vaccines vary and their distribution and use needs to be carefully controlled to maintain efficacy and ensure there is minimal wastage.

The quantity of vaccine available at any one time has an impact on how they are used, in line with the prioritisation guidance issued by the JCVI.

In England, there are three types of vaccination site:

  • Vaccination centres, using large-scale venues;
  • Hospital hubs, using NHS Trusts across the country; and
  • Local vaccination services (LVS), made up of sites led by general practice teams working together in PCNs and community pharmacy sites.

Each NHS region has defined the mix and number of sites required based on local demographics.

The Government’s overall plan for the COVID-19 vaccination programme is set out in its UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan.

The policy background

In December 2020, the NHS commenced its COVID-19 vaccination programme. Since then, a number of vaccines have been authorised for use as part of the programme.

The NHS has long been a global leader in achieving high levels of vaccination coverage. The UK has one of the world’s highest levels of public support for making a safe COVID-19 vaccine available.

Through their place in local neighbourhoods, pharmacies have been central to the Government’s COVID-19 response, and figures from NHS England, in January 2022, show just how significant a contribution they have made to the vaccination efforts. In the previous 12 month to January 2022, which marked the one-year anniversary of the sector providing COVID-19 vaccinations, more than 22 million vaccinations were administered by community pharmacy-led COVID vaccination sites. NHS England also highlighted a 50% increase in the number of pharmacies delivering COVID-19 boosters since October 2021.

The vaccination service was first commissioned as a Local Enhanced Service (LES) by NHS England regional teams in consultation with Local Pharmaceutical Committees. It was commissioned where there was a local need, for example where there was a gap in service provision or a need for additional capacity, and where contractors were able to meet the key designation requirements.

Those contractors selected as designated sites played a critical role in the success of Phase 1 (the vaccination of patient JCVI cohorts 1-9) and Phase 2 (the vaccination of patient JCVI cohorts 10-12) of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Through their strong relationships in local places and neighbourhoods, community pharmacies have helped to tackle vaccine inequalities and improve vaccination take-up.

The Phase 3 programme in 2021, was provided alongside the seasonal influenza vaccination programme, which runs each autumn.

In December 2021, provisions were made within the NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 for a new type of Enhanced service, the National Enhanced Service (NES). Under this type of service, NHS England commissions an Enhanced service that is nationally specified. This requires NHS England to consult with PSNC on matters relating to the service specification and remuneration for the service.

This differs from a LES that is locally developed and designed to meet local health needs and for which NHS England would consult with Local Pharmaceutical Committees. A NES allows the agreement of standard conditions nationally, while still allowing the flexibility for local decisions to commission the service to meet local population needs, as part of a nationally coordinated programme.

Phase 5 of the vaccination service, the autumn 2022 booster programme, will be commissioned as a NES and will again run alongside the seasonal influenza vaccination programme.

Information for contractors interested in providing a vaccination site

Around 1500 pharmacies are currently providing a vaccination site under the terms of an Enhanced service. The service may be provided at a pharmacy or a suitable off-site location. Any agreed location for provision of the service is described as a designated vaccination site.

During the course of the pandemic, NHS England has undertaken several rounds of expressions of interest (some coordinated at a national level and some locally), where pharmacy contractors could put their pharmacies forward for designation as a vaccination site.

Contractors who would like to be considered as a provider of the Community Pharmacy National Enhanced Service COVID-19 Vaccination Programme: Phase 5 2022/23  are advised to read the service specification (this has initially been published as a draft document, awaiting the final JCVI guidance) and the Community Pharmacy Site Selection Process prior to completion of an expression of interest (EOI). This will help provide a fuller understanding of the service requirements.

EOI submissions opened for contractors from 28th June 2022.

Read the NHS England letter to all community pharmacy contractors

Download the Phase 5 National Enhanced Service specification

Download the Guidance on the Community Pharmacy Site Designation Process

Contractors who are currently contracted to provide COVID-19 vaccinations under the Phase 3 LES (including those currently paused) and that wish to continue to provide vaccinations under the NES from September 2022 to March 2023 (subject to there being an identified population need) must follow the process set out within the Community Pharmacy Site Selection Process if they wish to provide vaccinations in Phase 5.

The purpose of the EOI is to gather information for the Commissioner to assess whether the contractor can meet the key designation criteria and if so, whether the proposed site is best placed to meet the identified population need.

Contractors that have submitted an EOI previously and have retained the automated confirmation detailing their responses, do not need to complete all their details again. The EOI form will permit contractors to indicate that they wish to be considered again and refer to their previous submission if they believe that it provides sufficient information for the NHS England Regional Team to make a decision on their site suitability.

The PSNC Services Team has produced a Briefing checklist that provides contractors with a non-exhaustive list of some considerations to support their decision on whether or not to submit an EOI.

Download the Briefing

All contractors that are currently commissioned to provide COVID-19 vaccinations under the Phase 3 LES, including “paused” sites, that wish for their designated site to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations from September 2022, had to express an interest by 5pm on 14th July 2022.

Contractors that are not currently commissioned but wish to participate in Phase 5 had to express an interest by 5pm on 20th July 2022.


Contractor webinar

NHS England are held a webinar for contractors on 4th July 2022 to share further detail about the Phase 5 arrangements.

Access the on-demand webinar and slide deck (FutureNHS collaboration platform)
If you do not have access to the Future NHS platform, you can register directly on the site using an NHSmail email address or using a similar professional email address by emailing P_C_N-manager@future.nhs.uk.


Site designation
NHS England Regional Teams will work with local authorities and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) to consider and manage the site designation process. This will occur in six stages which can be seen in the process chart below.

Further information on the service is available on the NHS England website and on the FutureNHS platform (login required). If you do not have access to the Future NHS platform, you can register directly on the site using an NHSmail email address or using a similar professional email address by emailing P_C_N-manager@future.nhs.uk.

Considerations for contractors on providing a vaccination site

PSNC has previously undertaken work with the other national pharmacy bodies and NHS England to identify some of the issues that any contractor planning to apply to be a COVID-19 vaccination centre should consider. This work drew upon the early experience of contractors who had already set up pharmacy local vaccination sites.

The clear messages from contractors already providing COVID-19 vaccination services is that this is not the same as flu vaccination – it is more complex, but pharmacies can provide a high quality COVID-19 vaccination service with appropriate planning and organisation.

The key areas identified so far that require consideration before submitting an EOI to be considered as a vaccination centre are detailed in a joint document developed by the national pharmacy bodies, and they include:

  • Suitability of the location of the pharmacy or vaccination site for easy patient access, including availability of car parking and public transport links, disabled access, and toilet facilities;
  • Sufficient space to maintain social distancing (should it be reintroduced), in addition to any existing pharmacy activity and to allow easy entry and exit from the building for vaccination patients;
  • Sufficient space for the administration of vaccines, e.g. second consultation room or areas within the pharmacy which can be screened off for sole use in the vaccination service;
  • The need for clear signage and marked pathways to guide patients, with staff or volunteers allocated to marshalling duties;
  • Space to allow for a 15-minute patient observation, should this be required in the future;
  • Existing risk assessments will need to be updated and new ones developed for the new activity. Existing standard operating procedures may need to be updated and new ones will need to be developed for the vaccination service. Additionally, business continuity plans will need to be updated to ensure the normal work of the pharmacy and the vaccination service can both be sustained;
  • Adequate fridge space and the ability to ensure the security of stored vaccine;
  • Storage space for personal protective equipment and for clinical waste created by the vaccination service and awaiting collection;
  • Updated infection control procedures, cleaning rotas and availability of hand washing and sanitising facilities for staff and patients;
  • A clear understanding of the legal route which will be used for vaccination (Patient Group Direction (PGD) or national protocol) and the operational consequences of this;
  • Availability of additional staff (over and above the normal staffing contingent) to operate the vaccination service, all with appropriate training completed and competence evidenced. Staffing plans need to recognise the need for maintenance of the service over a long period and sustainability of staffing plans needs to account for the need for staff leave, illness etc. Ensure staff workloads and pressures have been considered and mitigated, including ability to have sufficient breaks (mental and physical) and access to additional wellbeing support, such as those provided by the NHS;
  • The need for local processes to minimise the wastage of vaccine, e.g. having reserve lists of patients that can attend for vaccination at short notice;
  • Ability to support patients with additional needs, e.g. accessible information, staff members with language skills relevant to the local population; and
  • Availability of adequate IT infrastructure and equipment, e.g. Wi-Fi, tablet devices.

Service description

The service requirements are included in the service specification, which contractors must read before deciding whether to submit an EOI to be considered as a provider of the service.

Service specification for the 2022/23 Community Pharmacy National Enhanced Service COVID-19 vaccination programme (phase 5) (published 30th June 2022)

The service specification describes the requirements for provision of the service and it is essential reading for all pharmacists providing the service.

Legal frameworks

Patient Group Direction for COVID-19 vaccines 
These PGDs provide one of the legal mechanisms for administration of COVID-19 vaccines under the service; they should not be used for any other purpose. Enquiries regarding the use of these PGDs should be directed to immunisation@phe.gov.uk.

National Protocol for COVID-19 vaccines
These protocols provide the legal mechanisms for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines by appropriately trained persons in accordance with regulation 247A of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (HMR 2012), inserted by The Human Medicines (Coronavirus and Influenza) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. Enquiries regarding the use of these national protocols should be directed to immunisation@phe.gov.uk.

Additional resources for pharmacy teams

Department of Health and Social Care guidance and briefing documents

JCVI interim statement on COVID-19 autumn 2022 vaccination programme
Interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the coronavirus (COVID-19) autumn booster programme for 2022.

Suspension of the 15-minute wait for vaccination with mRNA vaccine for COVID-19: UK CMOs’ opinion
UK Chief Medical Officers’ and lead Deputy Chief Medical Officers for vaccines’ opinion on the 15-minute wait after vaccination with mRNA vaccine for COVID-19.

NHS England guidance

NHS England letter on COVID-19 autumn 2022 boosters (30th June 2022)

Guidance on the Community Pharmacy Site Designation Process (30th June 2022)

Next steps for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme planning and delivery
Details of the current priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme for 2022/23, based on:

  • the central role of vaccination to the Government’s strategy for Living with COVID-19
  • the latest Government advice to deliver a spring dose for those most at risk and to offer vaccination to five to 11-year-olds.

Summary of the legal mechanisms for administering the COVID-19 vaccine(s) (25th March 2022)
These summaries help to identify which legal mechanism is most suitable based on the local staffing mix and models for delivery based on the legal framework they must be used within.

NHS England Primary care guidance hub page

NHS England COVID-19 vaccination hub page

UK Health Security Agency guidance and briefing documents

COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a
COVID-19 vaccination information for public health professionals.

COVID-19 vaccination: information for healthcare practitioners
Guidance for healthcare practitioners about the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Vaccine incident guidance: responding to errors in vaccine storage, handling and administration

Vaccine Update – issue 330, June 2022, COVID-19 spring special edition

Other resources

The following links provide access to further information on the vaccination programme.

Anaphylaxis telephone card (Word)
Personalise this card and keep it by the phone to guide staff on calling an ambulance if a patient has an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccination.

Anaphylactic reactions – Initial treatment poster (Resuscitation Council UK)

Immunisation against infectious disease: the green book

Joint statement from the Chief Executives of the GMC, GPhC and PSNI – Joint statement on supporting patients in making informed decisions (Nov 2015)

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland have published a joint statement in response to claims that patients and the public have been inappropriately influenced by health professionals when making decisions about where to access services such as flu vaccinations or dispensing of prescriptions.

COVID-19 vaccination programme hub (FutureNHS collaboration platform)
If you do not have access to the Future NHS platform, you can register directly on the site using an NHSmail email address or using a similar professional email address by emailing P_C_N-manager@future.nhs.uk.

General Pharmaceutical Council guidance for pharmacy professionals involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme

NHS website information for patients


Vaccination of pharmacy staff

Community pharmacy staff are within the category of frontline health and social care staff eligible for a coronavirus vaccination and as such were a priority for early vaccination.

All adults can book their C-19 vaccination via nhs.uk/CovidVaccination.

COVID 19 Vaccination requirements when working or deployed in care homes

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published guidance on regulations which make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for people working or deployed in care homes; the regulations came into force on 11th November 2021.

The guidance applies to community pharmacy contractors who are providing services to care homes, for example, providing a locally commissioned service or delivering medicines to care homes.

The guidance provides information on demonstrating evidence of vaccination, medical exemptions and guidance for visiting professionals, as well as requirements when making deliveries to care homes.

View the DHSC Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes guidance

Following on from the announcement that DHSC had published guidance on new regulations which make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for people working or deployed in care homes from 11th November 2021, NHS England wrote to NHS staff, including community pharmacy contractors, on how this would be delivered operationally.

Read the NHS England letter and FAQs

Guidance on use of Personal Protective Equipment

Click on the link below for more information.

Guidance on use of Personal Protective Equipment

Training requirements and resources

Click on the link below for more information.

Training requirements and resources

Consent, record keeping and data requirements

Patient consent

As with the provision of any pharmacy service, the patient must consent to being vaccinated.

The General Pharmaceutical Council’s Guidance on Consent provides information on consent for pharmacists and their teams.

Patient consent can be obtained verbally and must cover the administration of the vaccine as well as advising the Patient of information sharing that will take place for the appropriate recording of the vaccination in their GP practice record. The Patient must also be informed that information relating to their vaccination may be shared with the NHS England (or the NHS Business Services Authority acting on their behalf) for the purposes of payment, post-payment verification, supply management and planning of future vaccination requirements.


COVID-19 Vaccination Record Form

Contractors must maintain appropriate records to ensure effective ongoing service delivery.

Download the latest version of the COVID-19 vaccination record form for business continuity purposes.

There are several Point of Care (POC) systems, made available by NHS England, that contractors can choose to use to record the vaccination event.

Access information on the available POC systems

Promoting the service to patients

A range of communication packs and toolkits including key messages, information, translations, Easy Read formats and letter templates has been published on the FutureNHS platform. These can be found on the Communication and Engagement section of the COVID-19 Local Vaccination Services hub page.

Final JCVI advice confirms that the COVID-19 Autumn booster should be offered to the following groups:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults;
  • Frontline health and social care workers;
  • All adults aged 50 years and over;
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book;
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression; and
  • Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.

Funding, claiming payment and post-payment verification

Funding

For the autumn 2022/23 booster programme, contractors will be paid £10.06 for each vaccine administered, with an additional financial supplement of £10 per dose for the vaccination of housebound people; these fees are funded from NHS vaccination budgets, not from the pharmacy global sum.

The vaccines will be provided to the designated contractors free of charge and therefore, no reimbursement of the cost of the vaccine will be payable.

Additional funding

NHS England have also made some funding available to support additional reasonable costs contractors might incur in setting up or maintaining their vaccination site. Contractors will be required to seek pre-authorisation from their NHS England Regional Team before incurring any costs that they intend to claim and provide associated evidence or invoices within four weeks of pre-authorisation. The guidance has been published on the FutureNHS platform.

Indemnity and Finance (FutureNHS collaboration platform)

In addition, funding will be devolved to ICSs to support improvement to access and help tackle health inequalities. This builds on the learning and successes of the earlier phases. Allocations have been designed to reflect key population differences including: size; rurality; ethnicity; deprivation. This additional funding will help support a continued focus on tackling health inequalities.

As confirmed in the system letter, Next steps for COVID-19 vaccination, Regions will receive an allocation, shown at Integrated Care Board level, made up of three parts:

  1. Core activity, based on total expected doses at the standard rate per dose;
  2. Funding to design an accessible network and deliver engagement activities to increase uptake across communities, shaped by indicators of rurality, ethnicity, and deprivation; and
  3. Funding to maintain a degree of ‘surge’ capacity based on population size.

Claiming payment

Community pharmacy contractors must claim payment monthly, via the Manage Your Service (MYS) portal. Information added into the Point of Care system is collated and automatically submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) for the claims total on MYS.

The payment process for the supplementary payments is the same as the item of service payments process. Contractors must ensure that the appropriate records are made in the Point of Care system, prior to record submission, for these supplementary payments to be made.

Claims should be made by the 5th of the month following the activity, as is normal for pharmaceutical services.

Contractors will need to log on to MYS to declare that the information is correct and to submit the claims for payment.

Claims will be accepted by the NHSBSA within three months of administration of the vaccination. Later claims will not be processed.

Payments to contractors will be made monthly as part of their normal payment schedule. Claims will show on payment schedules under the ‘COVID Vaccine’ header.


Post-payment verification (PPV) process

NHS England is responsible for monitoring the provision of all services they commission that are undertaken by contractors and they have a duty to assure themselves of the quality and probity of activity provided under the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework; PPV is one way in which they undertake this monitoring.

The NHSBSA Provider Assurance team undertake PPV on behalf of NHS England.

Further information on the PPV process for Advanced services

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to assist contractors can be found on the FutureNHS platform.

Key Documents – Community Pharmacy – PCNs and Practices Support Hub – Integrated Care (future.nhs.uk)

For more information on this topic please email services.team@psnc.org.uk

Latest National Pharmacy Services news

View more National Pharmacy Services newsSee all