GP practices and pharmacies will have to administer around 2.6m doses of flu vaccine to over-65s over the course of two weeks in a bid to meet NHS England’s ambitious target for coverage.
Out of 8.5m doses delivered, approximately 5.9m had been administered by last weekend, the latest figures show. This leaves the average practice with 293 vaccines to administer over the last two weeks of November.
It follows problems with stocks, which saw delivery rolled out in phases and practices and pharmacies having to swap stocks to meet demand.
NHS England launched a campaign this week urging over-65s to seek out their GP or pharmacist ‘as soon as possible’, saying this comes as ‘all vaccines have now been delivered to those surgeries and pharmacists who placed an order on time’.
Previously, NHS England said ‘everyone who needs the vaccine will get protected before December, when flu season usually hits’, but as it stands the uptake in over-65s is just 57.7%.
Practices were asked to administer the new adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV) to over-65s this year, but the Government only rolled out the advice in January when most practices had already ordered stocks.
UK supplier Seqirus has been working hard to meet demand, but was forced deliver the new vaccine in a phased process, with 40% delivered in September, 20% in October and 40% in November.
A statement from NHS England said: ‘All vaccines have now been delivered to those surgeries and pharmacists who placed an order on time and the NHS is reassuring the public that there is sufficient supply of the vaccine in stock for everyone to get protected ahead of winter.’
‘As the NHS continues to work with GP surgeries to ensure the vaccine gets to where it is needed, Seqirus confirmed it has now despatched the final supplies for England,’ it added.
Chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings said: ‘We are urging those who have not yet had their flu jab to get it as soon as possible.
‘Around 8.5m doses of vaccine have been ordered, with around one million surplus doses available. The current uptake rate in those aged 65 or over is 57.7% so we are keen to see an increase in that figure.’
‘It’s certainly not too late for people to get vaccinated,’ she added.
At the end of November last year, some 69% of over-65s had received their flu jab, equating to just under 7.1m vaccines, according to Public Health England data.
The average for each practice calculated in this article is based on the number of practices and pharmacies that took part in last year’s flu vaccination programme, and the coverage they provided.