This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

GPs to be funded to order two types of flu vaccines for next winter

NHS England has advised GPs to offer two different types of the flu vaccine for the 2018/19 season, after telling GPs to halt all orders.

In a letter, NHS England has told practices and pharmacies to offer the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) for all 65s and over and the quadrivalent vaccine (QIV) for at-risk patients between the ages of 18 and 64.

It said it will fund local commissioners to pass on to practices to order both types of vaccine.

This comes after GPs had been instructed by NHS England to halt all orders on flu vaccines, until all clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness data are re-evaluated.

The letter states that Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) concluded that the adjuvanted flu vaccine ‘is more effective and highly cost effective in those aged over 65 years’ compared with the ‘normal’ flu vaccines currently used for this age group.

But GPs have previously said that NHS England’s advice to order two different types of flu vaccine had come ‘too late’ for many practices.

Dr Peter English, BMA public health medicine committee chair, said: 'The BMA is glad that NHS England has listened to concerns we first raised weeks ago and issued new guidance, which will hopefully ensure vulnerable patients receive the most effective flu vaccine for their age group. Influenza is a potentially serious illness and we want to do all we can to protect our patients.

'It is important now for NHS England to ensure that no practice is penalised by suppliers for amending their orders that were made in good faith.'

The letter from NHS England said that GPs will need to order the vaccines by 29 March, with suppliers confirming ‘that there will be enough adjuvanted trivalent vaccine and quadrivalent influenza vaccine to meet demand’. 

It added that GP must ‘ensure that flu vaccine procurement for 2018/19 is aligned with the clinical evidence-base’ and if orders need to be changed GPs are asked ‘that this is done promptly, meeting the deadlines for ordering’.

The letter said: ‘NHS England is able to confirm that that there will be additional funding available in 2018/19, to support use of adjuvanted trivalent vaccine and quadrivalent influenza vaccine.’ 

The JCVI said in November that ‘giving the adjuvanted vaccine to the over-75s in particular should be a priority area’

NHS England then released guidance in January for practices to order the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine to give to over-75s in the 2018/19 flu season.

But NHS England then told practices to freeze all flu vaccine orders ahead of the guidance released yesterday

The turmoil over vaccine ordering comes after a busy flu season for GPs this winter, with a survey by Pulse showing that one in three GP practices are running out of flu vaccine.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Just Your Average Joe

    What happens to pre-orders that many practices have already agreed for next year?

    The companies where orders have been placed aren't likely to let them be released from this commitment.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Idiotic- NHSE order the vaccines yourselves and deliver them to us and stop this charade

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cobblers

    Do good (10:56). Do that and you cannot claim reimbursement for drug costs and lose a fair chunk of the flu jab earnings. Makes it unviable commercially.

    Most orders submitted by GPs can be modified especially if vaccine changed by central dictat. Depends on the contract but suppliers will fall over themselves to help.


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Just Av Joe is right. Maybe NHSE will pay compensation in cases where orders have been placed and Cos are not willing to cancel?
    OOOO somebody has given a massive backhander at the highest level to squeeze in another vaccine at this late stage. Can't see any other plausible explanation for this late awakening ! Tory funding for next elections - contributions from sponsors invited.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    The problem is , as I understand, there is (and will be) only one company manufacturing this adjuvanted trivalent vaccine and there is no gaurantee that the number of vaccines needed will be met.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • And how on earth can we plan when we have no idea how many patients will be poached by the local pharmacies ......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Because of my cynical (!) nature I suspect that there are insidious reasons for the potential ‘flu vaccine shortage.
    1) If people die as the result of contracting influenza because they hadn’t been vaccinated then it is a cost saving to the NHS because they aren’t here anymore to get the treatments for all their other pathologies!
    2) If such people do survive ‘flu then we will have told them there is no treatment (cost saving) and anyway Tamiflu etc makes no difference/doesn’t work!
    3) For those that need hospital admission they can’t have that as there are no beds available!
    Job done!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say