The Government is in ‘ongoing’ discussions with flu vaccine suppliers over whether a central stock will be provided for this year’s expanded programme, the Department of Health and Social Care has said.
NHS England’s enhanced service specification for the programme, released last week, said practices ‘may’ be able to vaccinate adults with jabs ordered from a national stockpile.
And a DHSC spokesperson has since confirmed to Pulse that the Government is in ‘ongoing’ discussions with suppliers about the provision of a central stockpile.
If it is created then further guidance about how to access and use the supply will be issued by the DHSC, said the spokesperson.
Practices were previously advised they would not have access to Government-procured stock – leading to warnings from GPs that their own supplies of jabs may run out.
However, with the flu programme mired in uncertainty this year – with patients likely to be able to get their flu vaccination while getting their Covid booster shot in non-GP settings – there had also been concerns practices could be left with surplus stock.
NHS England has said it does not expect this to be the case, with the Government aiming for a record-sized UK flu vaccination programme this year. The new target is set to 35 million people being offered the jab, after last year’s expanded programme resulted in 19 million being vaccinated.
Last winter’s flu vaccination programme saw the creation of a central supply of adult flu vaccines after eligible cohorts were expanded – but it later transpired around 1.7 million unused jabs were destroyed following the end of the campaign.
The flu vaccine service specification for England this year has also said GPs will be able to vaccinate patients against flu who are not registered with their practice.
It comes amid warnings that outbreaks of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could lead to double the number of related hospital admissions this winter.