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Practices to get £6m to expand flu vaccinations to morbidly obese

GPs will be able to offer morbidly obese patients the seasonal flu jab on the NHS next year, under changes to the vaccinations schedule covered by the GP contract announced today.

The GPC said an extra £6.2m has now been secured for the GP contract for next year in order to expand the programme and include this at-risk cohort.

But practices will no longer be responsible for giving four-year-olds the flu vaccine as part of the national flu immunisation campaign, as this will be transferred to schools.

The addition of morbidly obese patients comes two years after Government advisors recommended they should be covered as a clinical risk group under the NHS seasonal flu campaign.

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations made the recommendation based on public health officials’ evidance showing it reduced morbidity and mortality rates in morbidly obese.

However, NHS England failed to provide funding to include this cohort under the national programme this year, causing some confusion over whether GPs should offer these patients the vaccination or not.

Other changes include:

  • Whooping cough vaccine to be offered to pregnant women earlier – from 16 weeks (instead of 20 weeks)
  • Men ACWY vaccination to be offered up to 25th birthday (instead of 26th)
  • Shingles vaccine can be offered when patients turn 70 (rather than on 1 September after) and for the ongoing catch-up campaign, when they turn 78 (instead of the following September)