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GPs fear flu vaccine confusion as shops ramp up stocks

By Gareth Iacobucci

Retailers are dramatically ramping up provision of flu vaccines this winter, in a move which GPs claim will cause confusion and could leave them with unused stock.

Pulse has learned that Sainsbury's will be selling flu vaccines in 130 stores this year, up from around 60 last year.

Boots revealed that flu vaccines would be offered in 219 of its stores from 13 October, and Asda and Tesco said they too would be offering vaccination services.

Retailers may be planning even greater provision of flu vaccination from next year, with Sainsbury's already in talks with Stockport PCT about 2009/10 supplies.

Dr David Gilbert, a GP in Stockport, and chair of Stockport LMC, said: ‘We are concerned about how data will be recorded and how it links up with general practices. There's a strong possibility of there being unused surplus.'

A spokesperson for Stockport PCT said it would consult with local GPs before agreeing a deal – and provide advanced notice.

Retailers have been offering vaccinations - administered via nurses in in-store pharmacies - for a number of years, but are now looking to extend their provision in a bid to capitalise on increased patient demand for easily accessible services.

But Dr Bill Beeby, chair of the GPC clinical and prescribing subcommittee, said PCTs would have to tread carefully in agreeing deals, and that he was concerned about ‘at risk' patients choosing to go to a supermarket over their GP.

‘You want to make sure notification is given to practices about who is getting vaccinations. Otherwise, you're going to get duplication of effort, wasting time and money that should be used in chasing people who genuinely haven't vaccinations.'

Flu jabs: GPs fear supermarkets will cause chaos Flu jabs: GPs fear supermarkets will cause chaos

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