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GPs expected to vaccinate schoolchildren as flu programme is delayed

Some schools will need to reschedule flu vaccination sessions due to take place in mid-November following supply delays, according to PHE. 

PHE said GPs might have to vaccinate the children who would have normally received their flu vaccine at school.

It comes after the Welsh Government announced it had postponed the start of the programme in schools because of delays to vaccine delivery.

GPs in England will be expected to vaccinate primary school children in high-risk groups following the delay to vaccination sessions in schools.

This is due to a delay in the delivery of the childhood nasal spray flu vaccines - due to arrive in November - which has affected around a quarter of the overall number of vaccines that have been ordered.

However, PHE could not confirm a new date, saying clinics will be rescheduled ‘as soon as possible’.

Priority should be given to children in at-risk groups and younger children aged two and three, PHE advised.

Pharmaceutical supplier AstraZeneca said the delay only affects certain batches of Fluenz Tetra vaccine stocks, caused by routine testing process rather than safety or efficacy issues.

PHE head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said: ‘We are working with AstraZeneca and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that all eligible children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first.’

AstraZeneca country president Laurent Abuaf said: ‘We realise how important it is to deliver a full supply of vaccine to the NHS and are doing everything possible to minimise the delay of these affected batches.

‘As part of our normal product release process, we need to repeat some tests before a portion of our vaccine supply can be released and delivered. It is paramount that all batches complete the testing process before they can be supplied, and we are working as fast as possible to achieve this.

‘We are committed to working in partnership with PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care to support the earliest possible delivery of all the nasal spray vaccine needed for the NHS childhood seasonal flu immunisation programme.’

In England, GP practices have been advised to 'only order vaccine needed for the forthcoming week and to avoid stockpiling'.

Official figures released by NHS Digital in September showed that coverage of all 13 childhood vaccinations fell over the last year.

Meanwhile, NHS Digital said it expects only 40% of practices to have the right IT systems this autumn to receive flu vaccination data electronically from community pharmacies.

This article has been changed. It initially said the delay was to the start of the programme, however this was incorrect. This began in October. 

Readers' comments (16)

  • Great, I have been wondering how to keep myself busy with very little to do as usual in General Practice over the last few weeks ....
    Will there be any sanction for breaching delivery dates? Didn't think so...

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  • There is one thing being "expected to do this". I won't be doing anything unless there is a formal contract and payment attached.

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  • And what work are we going to cancel in order to fit this in?

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  • Yep that should help fill the few seconds I have free any day.

    One assumes no payment, encouraged to do it by our supportive leadership and expectations will be doing same next year and onwards for SFA.

    Roll on 4/20

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  • Vinci Ho

    Every single f***ing year with flu vaccinations!
    Does not matter whether it is adult or children. How much have incompetence and/or poor organisation contributed to the low intake of the vaccine is difficult to know . Quintessentially, the pharmaceutical companies can always get away with murder with zero penalty for non-delivery .

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  • Sounds like some rapid commissioning needs doing to get this agreed upon. PHE could contract directly with Feds or PCNs. Until then it's non-contractual and responsibility sits with PHE and it will be "thanks but no thanks, bit busy vaccinating those I am commissioned to vaccinate". If practices are stupid enough to roll over and do this without an agreement then we can't really blame PHE for trying it on....

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  • Poor PHE. Imagine not being told that each year we have flu and need to vaccinate parts of our population? If only someone had told them. Perhaps they could also be told that night follows day and how to breathe in and out. The bleedin' obvious!

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  • Cobblers

    Agreement? Jeez PHE would have to come to the surgery on their knees with chocolates AND roses plus an amazingly good payment per vaccine given.

    Even then I would have to consider it whilst monching my choccies.

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  • What exactly is the reason this cant be rescheduled to be delivered by schools themselves?

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  • Enjoy doing them while you can - apparently from next year the Health Board will be providing staff to administer the flu vaccinations for us under the New Scottish GP Contract.

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