GPs across the UK have been asked to use their remaining flu jabs to immunise all eligible patients within the next two weeks.
NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and chair of RCGP professor Helen Stokes-Lampard co-signed a letter in which they urged GP practices to make sure the remaining three million eligible patients get their free flu jab injection.
The news comes amid reports some pharmacies were running low on vaccine stocks, but pharmacist representatives said stocks were available at wholesale level.
The letter said: ‘With flu levels continuing to rise, we are writing to ask for your help in ensuring that all your practices’ remaining stocks of vaccinations are used to immunise eligible patients in the next two weeks.
‘We appreciate the very real pressures you are under, but we only have a couple of weeks left to maximise the impact of the vaccine programme and nationally there are still over three million patients in target groups that could benefit from immunisation.’
The letter said that this comes as ‘some practices are already running successful flu clinics and vaccinating patients as part of their routine GP appointments’.
But it added: ‘Many patients in target groups will be booked in for appointments in the coming fortnight, and we are asking you to ensure that all eligible patients already scheduled to attend your practices are offered the flu jab.’
The letter came at the same time as several pharmacies across the UK reported they were running out of flu jabs.
A spokesperson for major UK pharmacy chain Boots said: ‘We’ve seen a very high level of demand in the recent week from people looking to protect themselves and their families against flu this winter, which meant some Boots stores temporarily ran out of stock for a limited time.
‘We have quickly replenished our supply chain and flu vaccinations are available in all participating Boots Pharmacies across the country.’
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said that flu vaccinations are still available for pharmacies to source.
He said: ‘While stock is clearly not as plentiful as it was at the start of the season, supplies are available within the pharmacy wholesale market.’