15-minute wait after Covid vaccines set to be scrapped as rollout accelerated

Those who receive a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna jab are no longer set to wait 15 minutes after being vaccinated, as government officials seek to accelerate the national rollout.

The UK's four chief medical officers have recommended that the waiting period typically observed for the mRNA vaccines should be temporarily suspended.

“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 CMOs said in a statement released on Thursday.

Analysis from NHS England suggests that the 15-minute wait reduces the throughput of a vaccination programme “working at full capacity” by 23 per cent.

The CMOs said that the move should be a "temporary measure on the grounds of public health need to protect as many citizens as possible over a short period of time".

The long-term decisions on the 15-minute wait - “when the current need for extreme speed of vaccination and boosting is over” - should rest with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the CMOs added.

The 15-minute wait was introduced to monitor rare but severe reactions to the mRNA vaccinations, such as anaphylaxis, of which very few have been reported throughout the national rollout.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England primary care medical director, said last week that the 15-minute wait had been reviewed by the MHRA and was “not changing”.

As such, the recommendation issued by the CMOs suggests they have circumvented the MHRA in advising ministers to temporary suspend the waiting period.

“Those with a history of allergic reactions should be managed in line with Green Book advice and everyone who is vaccinated should be given verbal and written advice on allergic reactions including what actions to take if they become unwell,” the CMOs add.