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Co-administered flu programme may draw patients away from GP, NHSE admits

flu programme

Patients may choose to get their flu vaccination through a ‘different provider’ than their GP this year if the Covid booster programme includes co-administration of the two jabs, NHS England has acknowledged.

However, it said NHS policy makers ‘do not anticipate that there will be an excess of flu vaccines’, in response to concerns that GP practices could be left with an abundance of supply.

NHS England sought to allay fears over the issue of surplus vaccine stocks in an FAQ document on the Covid-19 vaccination programme that was highlighted in its bulletin to GPs last night.

The document noted that GP practices and community pharmacies have ordered supplies of flu vaccines based on previous years’ uptake.

It posed the question: ‘What will happen if practices have excess stock as a consequence of co-administration (if this is approved by JCVI)?’

NHS England said in its response: ‘The ambition for the uptake of flu vaccinations for this winter will be higher than in previous years.

‘We do not anticipate that there will be an excess of flu vaccines, although we appreciate that some patients may choose to access their flu vaccinations through a different provider than they might hitherto have done.’

GPs could end up losing out on cash if they are unable to administer as many flu jabs as they would usually, due to missing out on the item-of-service payment for giving the jab as well as the reimbursement for the cost of the vaccine.

They were advised by the BMA in April when ordering flu stock to take into account that the Government would not be providing a central stock of vaccine to fall back on for this year’s expanded programme, as occurred last year.

GPs expressed fears they may face flu vaccine shortages this year, as a result of there being no central supply to cover extended cohorts.

NHS England plans for Covid-19 booster jabs to be given by community pharmacy, vaccination centres and general practice, but wants to ‘spread capacity’ more evenly and limit GPs to giving a maximum of 75% of jabs.

There have been indications that if co-administration of the flu and Covid jab goes ahead, it will take place at a PCN grouping level, after GPs were ‘actively encouraged’ to pool flu vaccines between practices.

The BMA has said it is ‘crucial’ GP teams must be able to co-administer flu and Covid vaccines from their individual practice buildings, which has not so far been possible with the Covid jab.

Final details of both the flu vaccination programme and Covid booster programme, set for the autumn, have yet to be revealed.

A clinical trial looking at safety and efficacy of co-administration of the two vaccines – with one given in each arm – is still ongoing.

The Government is aiming for a record-sized flu vaccination programme this year, with a target 35 million people being offered the jab.

Last year’s expanded flu programme saw the Government introduce a central stock for GPs – but the BMA confirmed the supply will not be available for the 2021/22 flu season.


Bonglim Bong 30 July, 2021 12:42 pm

Boots have ordered triple the number of flu jabs this year, so expect them to be super aggressive with the way they recruit patients. We have all seen that their corporate culture is ruthlessly hard on individual shops and pharmacists, and they will all have aggressive flu jab targets.

That applies to shops that do covid jabs and shops that just do flu jabs. I’m not sure about the other multiples, but I’d imagine they will be similarly pushy about flu jabs.

The main issue is that if routine flu jabs are pushed away from GPs, then the really difficult flu jabs should go with them. I’d like to see local pharmacies being responsible for home visit jabs for their housebound patients and care home patients. And to take their share of those with severe anxiety, agoraphobia or learning difficulties.

Patrufini Duffy 30 July, 2021 3:25 pm

This is not a problem.
Every doctor should understand that their own grave draws nearer by the day. When they see this – then all this floundering, bending over and pampering will cease.
Fact of life lesson not taught at medical school.

Dr N 30 July, 2021 5:20 pm

NHSE seems hell bent on totally f@cking over general practice

John Graham Munro 31 July, 2021 3:23 pm

Telling us all about vaccines was that G.M.T.V. doctor who looks more like a clown than a clown——rabbiting on about poverty in his area of Leeds from his luxuriant garden—-apparently he can identify every bird chirruping away in the background——but when asked if had a surgery to go to———guess what?—he didn’t seem to know

Vinci Ho 1 August, 2021 9:20 am

I was reading this article in BBC news this morning , summarising vaccine hesitancy. The government’s gung-ho approach to push co-administration without intricate discern of the matter is egregious.
If hesitancy already prevails even in 15-20% of people in this country , what can be the hesitancy of first of all , flu vaccination and more essentially , of co-administration ?
The paternalism with a virtual decree is stark . At the end , the ball will be thrown back to the courtyard of GPs .
If you have time , read this fairly rational summary of vaccine hesitancy below :
And my comment for this article is :
Good summary of vaccine hesitancy. The important issue here is not to be judgmental and more importantly, discern the facts and respect individual decisions and their feelings . Treat them as ends rather than means Unless you are living in a country like China where collectivism overriding almost every aspects of life , our western values of balancing liberty (not necessarily freedom as a cliche ) and paternalism is what we should believe and practise .

John Graham Munro 1 August, 2021 12:55 pm

What happened to ”eat out to help out vouchers?”——now replaced by ”discounts on pizzas”——-what happened to vouchers to get your bike repaired (encouraging exercise) now replaced by ”discounts on taxis”———welcome OBESITY PHASE TWO

Guy Wilkinson 2 August, 2021 1:44 pm

Pharmacies cherry pick the ambulant. Their payment should be much lower than GP.

Patrufini Duffy 2 August, 2021 3:06 pm

Should read __ may draw GPs away from GP.

Hewa Vitarana 5 August, 2021 10:24 pm

Yes, activities that bring income to the GP practices will go down. I can assure you that all side effects, from arm pains to headaches to suspected blood clots in brains, are all redirected to their GPs. Added to workload pressure. Who cares?