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The waiting game

GPs must review flu vaccine orders ‘urgently’, says PHE

GPs are being asked to ‘urgently review’ vaccine orders for the forthcoming flu season as Government discussions about potentially expanding the immunisation programme are underway.

GPs and community pharmacies should ensure they have enough vaccines to ‘meet at least national ambitions and previous uptakes rates, whichever is highest’, according to Public Health England.

If stocks are not sufficient, orders may need to be increased with suppliers, said PHE in a letter issued today, which also warned there may be increased demand from all existing groups of people eligible for the vaccine.

Primary care providers should aim to schedule their immunisation services to match vaccine supply, usually from September, and complete vaccination by the end of November.

Immunisation service specifications require practices to proactively call at-risk patients and this year revised rules mean GPs must also contact parents of all eligible two and three-year-old children about getting their children’s vaccines at their practice.

The PHE letter reminded practices they must only use the specific vaccines recommended in NHS England guidance in order to be reimbursed.

In the letter sent by PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care, health officials said they recognise that delivering the flu immunisation programme is likely to be ‘more challenging’ due to the impact of Covid-19 on health and social care services.

It noted that staff absences in combination with uncertainties about how long social distancing and school closure policies would be in place were adding to the challenges.

Further guidance about how to manage the immunisation programme to reflect these circumstances will be issued nearer the planned start of the programme in September 2020, said the letter.

It added: ‘Discussions to consider expansion of the flu programme for this autumn are underway, and we will write again with any changes in due course.’

In addition, health officials said they expect universal vaccination of health and care workers, with further guidance on this coming out in ‘due course’.

The letter stressed that health and care services may be faced with both Covid-19 and flu this winter and said it was ‘more important than ever’ to deliver flu vaccination.

The letter said: ‘Those most at risk from flu are also most vulnerable to Covid-19. We must do all we can to help protect them this winter.’

It added: ‘In light of Covid-19, we ask primary care providers (general practices and community pharmacies) to urgently review your vaccine orders now to make sure the number of vaccines ordered meet at least national ambitions and previous uptakes rates, whichever is highest.

‘Please do so across your local primary care network ensuring that the clinical commissioning group flu lead is fully appraised of the position.’

Readers' comments (9)

  • NHSe want everything done urgently.......when are the GPs supposed to actually see patients (Which is actually the point of the job) when they're not reviewing everything, writing shielding letters, doing ward rounds in nursing homes, manning covid centres and cleaning their cars out afterwards? Can someone please ask NHSe to please shut up and stop interfering....... actually helping out would be appreciated but they wouldn't know where to begin...... so its best they actually do nothing right now...... and their silence would be appreciated.....

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  • What can we do if they are only having " discussions about potentially expanding the immunisation programme"?
    You decide "urgently" and tell us the changes

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  • is that because there are less patients to vaccinate now cause there all dying in nursing homes - latest estimate is 22,000 deaths so far. just asking

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  • Glad to be an OOH locum
    Much less stress
    Much less responsibility
    Much less remuneration variability
    More medicine less admin

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  • Anonymousgp | Locum GP

    isn't it great living in locumland ? you can get on with things, and see patients, without all the shit that the pen pushers and beauroprats are dumping on the workforce !

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  • The COVID epidemic has exposed deep flaws in the current system which is top heavy with policy makers but weak in getting the important things that actually count implemented. For example UK has some of the best guidelines on a wide range of issues - managing influenza type viral epidemics; but the mere existence of such a document is meaningless if there is just lip service paid to it. NHSE creates strategies which look good on paper to themselves with little or no consultation with front line staff. Hope things change with the covid disaster.

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  • If the workforce just ignores them. Does what it can. Forgets performance targets. Then wr might all just move on as a group.

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  • and yet the drug companies have reduced the sale/ return% this year so no one wants to overorder otherwise at risk of a significant loss.

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  • NHS England and not underwriting any losses made by ordering the vaccines. Seqirus will not refund enough if they are not used. There should be centralised procurement like immform

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