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'Use adjuvanted flu vaccine in over-65s next winter', JCVI recommends

GPs should consider using an adjuvanted flu vaccine for the 2018/19 flu season as they are more effective than currently available vaccines, the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has recommended.

The JCVI acknowledged in its November meeting that the adjuvanted vaccine Fluad is both more cost effective and more clinically effective than the currently available flu vaccine for over-65s.

They said that given the lack of clinical effectiveness in the current vaccine, giving the adjuvanted vaccine to the over-75s in particular should be a priority area for consideration by the DH, PHE and NHS England.

This comes as PHE announced in September that last winter’s vaccine was not ‘significantly effective’ in this age group.

The JCVI meeting minutes said: ‘The committee agreed that the available evidence indicated adjuvanted influenza vaccines were more effective in those over 65 years of age, compared with influenza vaccine currently used in the UK. Mathematical modelling indicated that, under quite conservative estimates of effectiveness, the adjuvanted vaccine would be highly cost effective in both the 65-75 and 75 and over age groups.

‘The committee agreed that if a change in approach were to be considered, switching vaccination of the 75 years and upwards age group to adjuvanted vaccine would be the first priority, given the un-adjuvanted inactivated vaccine showed no significant effectiveness in this group.’

Dr George Kassianos, GP and RCGP immunisation lead, commented: ‘I very much welcome this guidance by the JCVI. Year on year, it is becoming more and more evident that conventional non-adjuvanted influenza vaccines do not provide sufficient protection for our older patients, particularly in years dominated by the influenza A(H3N2) virus.

‘Use of this adjuvanted vaccine is expected to result in fewer infections, fewer GP consultations and hospital admissions, and a significantly reduced winter burden on the NHS.’

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