Letter from the Health and Social Care Secretary to the JCVI: 11 March 2021

Published 11 March 2021

Applies to England


Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0EU


By email to Professor Wei Shen Lim
Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
Chair COVID-19 Immunisation (Nottingham University Hospitals)

11 March 2021

Dear Professor Lim,

RE: Advice on COVID-19 vaccination – further considerations on phase 1 advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)

Thank you for your letter of 1 March with further advice on:

  • giving local teams flexibility to vaccinate homeless people and rough sleepers alongside cohort 6

  • vaccination of detainees, as well as use of any leftover end of day vaccine for prison officers

  • extended dosing strategy and intervals between doses

I welcome the advice to give flexibility to local teams to make a universal vaccine offer to those in their area who are homeless or rough sleepers alongside cohort 6 in phase 1 of the vaccine deployment programme. I have asked NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) to take this forward alongside your recommendation on a pragmatic approach to the dosing schedule considering the likelihood of follow up for this group.

Thank you also for your advice that vaccination of detainees should continue to be prioritised in line with the wider population prioritisation arrangements but that every effort should be made to encourage take up within those cohorts given the vulnerabilities of this group who are often from disadvantaged communities.

I have considered carefully your advice on whether any vaccine left over in detained settings could be used for prison staff and have advised NHSEI that this should be done wherever possible. In practice the deployment programme is now at a stage where there are significant numbers of detained individuals in relevant cohorts. I have therefore asked NHSE to bear the JCVI advice in mind for the future, considering its practicality, should current circumstances change.

Finally thank you for the advice on vaccine dosing and intervals. You confirmed your advice that we should continue with a strategy of ensuring all adults receive 2 doses of the currently available vaccines with an emphasis on ensuring maximum numbers receive the first dose. Your advice that for AstraZeneca the dosing interval for maximum effectiveness should now be 8 to 12 weeks is noted and is in line with our current approach.

My officials have also shared your advice with my colleagues leading the vaccines deployment programmes in each of the 4 nations of the UK.

Thank you for your continued advice and support for the vaccination programme and I look forward to receiving further advice and discussions over the coming weeks.

Yours ever,

Matt Hancock