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Use new flu vaccine in over 65s for 2018/19 flu season, says JCVI

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have recommended that a different, adjuvanted flu vaccine is used in over 65s for the 2018/19 flu season.

Minutes from their latest committee meeting reveal that the JCVI believe the use of an adjuvanted vaccine, as opposed to the non-adjuvanted vaccine used currently, ‘would be more effective, and more cost-effective’ in the over 65s, given the ‘low vaccine effectiveness’ seen over recent flu seasons in this age group.

They recommend that any change of vaccine should start with patients aged 75 or over, as the non-adjuvanted vaccine used now showed no significant effectiveness for this group.

The available evidence for the adjuvanted flu vaccine shows that it is more effective than the non-adjuvanted vaccine, with a study in older patients showing it to have high significant and relative effectiveness.

As there is an adjuvanted vaccine available for practices to order for the 2018/19 flu season, the JCVI has asked Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS England to ‘give consideration to the evidence that had been provided on the provision of the adjuvanted flu vaccine to those over 65’.

Dr George Kassianos, GP and immunisation expert, said: ‘Year on year, it is becoming more and more evident that conventional non-adjuvanted influenza vaccines do not provide sufficient protection for our older patients, particularly in years dominated by the influenza A(H3N2) virus, which dominated the flu season last year and the year before. Use of this adjuvanted vaccine is expected to result in fewer infections, fewer consultations and hospital admissions, and a significantly reduced winter burden on the NHS.’

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