New measures to support roll-out of vaccines

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that new laws will allow more healthcare workers to administer flu and potential coronavirus vaccines safely to the public.

Following a public consultation, changes to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 will come into force on 16 October which will enable the expansion of the trained workforce who can administer coronavirus and flu vaccines to improve access and protect the public.

This will begin with those who already have experience in handling vaccinations but may currently work outside of NHS settings, such as independent nurses, allied healthcare professionals, paramedics, physiotherapists, pharmacists and student nurses and doctors.

The changes will also implement reinforced safeguards to support the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to exceptionally grant temporary authorisation, pending the granting of a licence, for new vaccines and treatments needed to tackle public health threats - provided they meet the highest safety, quality and effectiveness standards and there’s a significant public health justification for doing so.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS has vast experience in vaccinating millions of people against diseases every year. These legal changes will help us in doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator.”

If a vaccine is developed before 2021, the changes to the Human Medicine Regulations will bolster existing powers that enable the MHRA to authorise temporary supply for any treatment or vaccine needed to respond to a public health need.

This means that if a vaccine has been found to meet the safety, quality and effectiveness standards by the MHRA then vaccinations can begin without needing to wait for the European Medicines Agency who – up until the end of the transition period in 2021 – would have been the only body able to grant a licence.

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