15-minute wait after Pfizer Covid jab to be scrapped as 500k boosters needed

The 15-minute wait for patients after they've been jabbed with the Pfizer Covid jab has been scrapped by NHS England so more booster jabs can be administered.

Normally, recipients are asked to hang about "in the unlikely event you have a serious reaction to the vaccine".

The NHS say it is "very rare to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine," but if a person did, it would be within minutes.

But now, it's estimated that getting rid of the additional wait time after being jabbed will increase NHS capacity by almost a quarter (23 per cent), according to reports, via The Mirror.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the 15-minute wait time is likely to cause more harm than it averts.

It said: "The Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) of the UK and lead Deputy Chief Medical Officers (DCMOs) for vaccines have considered whether, in the light of the very considerable need to speed up vaccination and boosting in response to Omicron variant, the 15-minute wait for some mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be suspended.

"Their view, having considered the views of the COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit-Risk Expert Working Group (EWG), NHS planners and others is that with the low rates of anaphylaxis, in the context of the considerable need for people to be boosted or vaccinated, the 15-minute wait after a vaccination with mRNA vaccine will cause more harm than it can avert because it will significantly reduce the number of people who can be vaccinated over a short period of time.

"The 15-minute wait should therefore be suspended for first, second and homologous or heterologous boost vaccinations with mRNA vaccine given the current situation, with this operationalised in line with the needs in each of the four nations."

  • Pubs and restaurants may 'close or have entry limits' to fight Omicron from New Year

It comes as Boris Johnson accepted a shock model suggesting 200,000 people were infected with Omicron yesterday and warned ministers a "huge spike" is coming.

There have been long queues at walk-in vaccine centres as people rush to get their booster jabs before Christmas, while there have also been virtual queues as people try to access the booking system via the NHS website.

The DHSC statement added: "The CMOs recognise that this will lead to a marginal increase in risk for a very small number of people, but substantially fewer than would be harmed by a slower vaccine rollout in the current public health emergency leading to some citizens not getting boosted or vaccinated prior to exposure to Omicron.

"This includes a consideration that any prior vaccination and particularly boosting is likely to lessen the likelihood of severe disease arising from Omicron variant infection."

The Prime Minister held a virtual Cabinet meeting for the first time in months in light of the increasing number of Covid cases.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty told ministers to expect a "significant increase in hospitalisations" as cases rise, but it was too early to say how severe Omicron was, No10 said.

According to The Sun, Prof Whitty warned people could have to be turned away from hospitals by mid-January as a Covid wave engulfs hospital staff.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has estimated that the new variant was infecting 200,000 people a day as of yesterday.

This shock figure is much higher than the recorded cases, which officials say is due to the speed at which the strain spreads and the delay in cases being picked up in official tests.

It's understood the 200,000 figure is only the mid-range of modelling – so it could be even higher. With cases doubling every two to three days, it could theoretically lead to a million infections a day by next week.

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