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GPs should opportunistically offer flu vaccine to at-risk groups, recommends NICE

GPs should use all face-to-face contacts as an opportunity to offer the flu vaccination to patients in at-risk groups, according to draft NICE guidelines on increasing flu vaccination uptake.

The guidelines, due for publication in January 2018, recommend that GPs should opportunistically educate eligible patients about the benefits of the vaccination, and offer it to them, whenever they present in primary care.

According to the guidelines, GPs should use ‘every opportunity throughout the flu season’ to offer the vaccination to eligible patients, and provide multiple routes for patients to access it, including out of hours options’.

The guidelines say: ‘The committee believed strongly that reminders should be proactive. Not all people who are eligible for free flu vaccination will visit their GP surgery regularly, so it is not sufficient to rely on posters in waiting rooms to remind them.’

Eligible patient groups who the guidelines target include those with chronic respiratory, heart or liver disease, those with diabetes, young children and the elderly, pregnant women and those who receive a carer’s allowance.

NICE recommends that invitations for vaccination should be tailored to the circumstances of the individual patients and should include information on the risks of not being vaccinated.

There is also a push in the guidelines towards increasing vaccination uptake among healthcare professionals, suggesting use of mobile services and extended on-site clinic hours to improve access and publishing uptake rates.

The guidelines come as figures suggest that vaccination uptake has improved in the last flu season, despite overall uptake in at-risk groups still being below PHE targets.


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