The launch of this year’s adult influenza vaccination programme will be delayed until October, NHS England (NHSE) has confirmed.
In a statement today, an NHSE spokesperson said the adult flu vaccination programme will begin in October, instead of on 1 September as it usually does.
‘The NHS adult flu vaccination programme will begin in October to maximise protection for patients right across the winter months when it is typically colder, and viruses are more likely to spread with people spending more time indoors,’ they said.
They added that the NHS was working to ‘ensure a growing number of vaccine sites across England offer both flu and Covid-19 vaccines’.
NHSE has also confirmed that the Covid-19 vaccination programme will begin in October, as it has done in previous years.
However, the proximity of this announcement to the intended start date of the programme has raised concerns for practices trying to make vaccination arrangements.
Immunisation expert, Queen’s Nurse, and nurse consultant, Helen Donovan told Nursing in Practice that when it comes to immunisation programme updates, ‘practitioners need to know as soon as possible because flu planning happens all the way through the year and August is often a time to make sure everything is in place’.
‘In the past, the flu vaccine season has started as soon as vaccines are available, in September, as such it could be a concern with saying to practices that the programme will begin in October.’
Ms Donovan added that ‘some practices will have already started planning their flu clinics, and may well have set some dates aside in their practice calendar’.
Nursing in Practice understands that, as of this articles publication, NHSE has not yet made a formal announcement of the change or contacted practices to inform management about the change.
The move to an October start date was also mooted by our sister publication Management in Practice earlier today.