Concerns were raised by residents after people outside the highest priority groups were given the Covid-19 vaccine in Hale this week.
Primary care bosses said they are offering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to those outside the highest vulnerability cohorts to make sure stocks of the jab are used up before they expire and need to be thrown out.
The difficult storage conditions necessary particularly for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus jab means it has a ‘limited shelf life’ and needs to be used within around five days of being taken out of a freezer.
Residents in Hale said they’re quite prepared to wait for their GPs to contact them for their own vaccines, but were worried that those outside the most vulnerable cohorts were getting jabs at all.
But GPs have been working their way through their patient lists, offering vaccines to people in descending order of priority in order to ensure stocks are used up – which is permitted within national guidelines.
A spokesperson for the South Trafford Primary Care Network explained that vaccine supplies sent to a particular GP practice cannot be shared between different practices across the borough due to a lack of authorisation.
They said: “Four local practices are working together to vaccinate as many of our patients as possible, as quickly as possible, in the priority order advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
“This includes the clinically vulnerable, patients with underlying health conditions and key worker groups of all ages above 16.
“The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has a limited shelf-life of five days, once thawed, before it requires discarding. National guidance allows GPs to vaccinate beyond the JCVI cohorts if there is a risk the vaccine stock will become non-viable.
“There is no authorisation or mechanism to transfer this vaccine from one Primary Care Network (PCN) to another.”
The spokesperson added that, for example, a standard pack of 1170 vaccine doses arrived at 17:15 on Saturday January 16 2021. Any unused vaccines would have needed to be thrown out by 09:53 on Tuesday January 19 2021.
They said: “Practice and Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) staff mobilised rapidly and vaccinations commenced at 08:00 on Sunday January 17 2021. In order to avoid vaccine wastage, patients were contacted in descending age order to ensure that all the appointment slots were filled.
“Patients registered with practices in other primary care networks will be vaccinated by their own primary care network. There is local, regional and national variability in the pace of vaccination and vaccine uptake which is, unfortunately, beyond our control.”