GP practices risk running out of flu vaccine for the over-65s during periods of the forthcoming flu season due to the new vaccine being delivered in phases over a three month period.
Surgeries will receive the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine in a phased process over three months, meaning that they risk running out between deliveries and having to turn patients away.
It means practices may see their older patients being vaccinated against flu at local pharmacies instead of at their practices.
NHS England has said that patients can go to local pharmacies if their GP surgery runs out, meaning that practices could miss out on payments given for delivering the service.
This advice comes as part of the guidance on delivering the flu vaccination programme for 2018/19, issued by NHS England this month, which will see practices administering three different types: the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV), quadrivalent vaccine (QIV), and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV).
But the aTIV, which is licensed for people aged 65 years and over, will be delivered to practices and pharmacies in three batches, with 40% delivered in September, 20% in October, and 40% in November.
Due to this, the guidelines ask practices to write to all eligible patients, as well as calling them, and use the ‘profile of their population aged 65 years and over to inform the phasing of invitations’, matching them against the aTIV deliveries.
NHS England said in the report: ‘Practices and pharmacies should make patients aware of when they expect their next delivery of aTIV. It is important to stress to them that they should return for vaccination as having vaccines in October or November will not be too late to benefit from its protective effect.’
But it also says that ‘patients can make enquires at the pharmacy if their practice currently has no vaccine’.
This could mean that practices miss out on vaccination dispensing fees, as patients turn to pharmacies instead of waiting for the next practice delivery.
Practices were informed in November 2017 that they should use the new adjuvanted flu vaccine in over-65s for the 2018/19 flu season.