GPs will be expected to vaccinate all four-year-olds as well as two- and three-year-old children against flu from September, Public Health England has confirmed.
The public health body said the national childhood flu vaccination programme in children and adolescents aged two to 17 – which began to be rolled out last year – will now be extended through GP practices to four-year-olds nationally, as well as through pilot programmes in schools to children aged 11 to 13 years.
A PHE spokesperson confirmed to Pulse GPs would be expected to deliver the flu vaccines to four-year olds.
The spokesperson said: ‘Yes, [the] plan is for vaccination for four-year-olds to be delivered by GPs’.
It comes as GP leaders had already criticised the workload associated with this season’s campaign, which spanned only two- and three-year olds.
The GP-led campaign was hailed a success by public health chiefs, after around 40% of children were vaccinated by the end of January, but GP leaders said GPs shouldered too much of the responsibility for informing parents and ensuring adequate uptake.
PHE advised GPs the live-attenuated flu vaccine – Fluenz – used would again be provided centrally and practices will need to take into account the additional four-year-old cohort when ordering stocks.
In a new vaccine update communication to GPs, Public Health England wrote: ‘The flu vaccine ordering season for the winter 2014/15 is already upon us, so we are using this month’s issue to update readers on who will be eligible for the flu vaccine later in the year when the vaccination programme starts.
‘Next winter sees the addition of two more age groups of children to those introduced in winter 2013/14. These are planned for eligible four-year-olds, and in several pilot programmes around the country to 11- to 13-year-olds.
‘GP practices should note that flu vaccine will be provided centrally for all children in the extended programme, and those of all ages in clinical risk groups, up to and including those aged 17 years.’