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NHS England suggests flexibility for practices on vaccine delivery

NHS England suggests flexibility for practices on vaccine delivery

General practices will receive payment for flu vaccinations delivered during September despite changes to the immunisation programme’s official launch, NHS England (NHSE) has said.

In a letter sent by NHSE to primary care networks (PCNs), integrated care boards (ICBs) and practices yesterday, it was confirmed that practices would receive payment for vaccinations delivered earlier than the programme’s official start date.

The letter confirmed that the autumn flu vaccination programme would begin on 7 October for most eligible adults, a month later than the normal start date of 1 September.

Meanwhile, vaccinations for care home residents and staff will begin on 2 October.

In the letter, NHSE national director for vaccinations and screening, Stuart Russell asked that vaccination programmes for both flu and Covid-19 ‘commence in October and are preparing to offer the most up-to-date Covid-19 vaccine as the predominant vaccine in Autumn’.

Ms Russell added that, while practices do not normally receive payment for vaccinations delivered before the programme’s official start, NHSE understands that ‘some firm commitments and appointments have already been made’.

Where this is the case and the patient wishes to receive flu vaccination in September, NHS England will permit payment claims to be submitted.

Giving a reason for the delayed start to the programme, Ms Russell reiterated that this was intended to maximise protection for the public during the winter.

‘Vaccination is an essential part of protecting the public and staff over the colder months. The approach being taken to timing and co-administration maximises clinical protection, and therefore the resilience of health and care services, over the later winter months when flu and Covid-19 are most likely to be prevalent.’

He also added that: ‘By supporting greater levels of co-administration of vaccines we also collectively have an opportunity to achieve greater efficiency in delivery for providers at what we know is already a busy time of year.’

On the same day NHSE also announced that the rollout of flu vaccines for children would begin ‘from September’.

School aged children will be able to receive the vaccine at school or community clinics, while children with long term health conditions and aged two and three years will be able to receive the vaccination at their GP practice.

The NHS claims that the earlier start will ‘break the chain of transmission’ into the general population by stopping children getting the flu earlier in the year.

NHSE medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said the NHS would protect against influenza by ‘first offering protection to children to help stop the spread of flu, then offering eligible adults both vaccines to ensure maximum protection.’

However, chief executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHA), Sharon White, warned that the late notice of the announcements was ‘not helpful at all in terms of planning, workforce, and resources’ and added: ‘Especially with critical discussion and agreements already in place with schools who have their own strict timetable requirements to accommodate’.

The timing was especially poor Ms White noted, given that most schools are currently still on holiday.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Thomas Waite said: Administering vaccines to children in September and adults in October will protect people throughout the winter months.

‘Healthcare workers continue to go above and beyond to deliver the flu and Covid vaccination programme and I’d like to thank everyone who has and will support its rollout.’


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