CCA calls for urgent change to the flu vaccine programme this winter

The CCA is today (10 July) calling for changes to enable more flexibility in where and how the flu vaccine is administered this winter. The call is made in a new CCA policy paper, Flu vaccinations during the pandemic, published today.

We are also calling for:

  • A national public health campaign to ensure the public understand what to expect this year,
  • Sufficient flu vaccinations and PPE to be made available to all providers to ensure that everyone in an ‘at-risk’ group can receive the vaccine and
  • The cost of vaccination to be reviewed, taking into consideration the changes now required for safe delivery.

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the CCA, said: “The CCA is working with NHS England, the pharmacy sector and other primary care partners to overcome some of the barriers to changing how the flu vaccine is administered. We urgently need the government and NHS England to decide how it will work differently to deliver this year’s flu vaccine.

“We know that we will need to innovate this year, not only to meet the usual demand for flu vaccinations, but to also deliver the governments anticipated broadening of those it wishes to receive the vaccine. The flu vaccine will be vital ammunition this winter in the NHS’s fight against the twin threats of flu and Covid-19. Decisions made now will influence the success of the flu programme in England, which begins in September.

“For every extra 1,000 people vaccinated, hospitalisations will be reduced by one flu related admission and the averted cost for hospitals could be more than £40 million. It is therefore vital that everyone eligible for the NHS flu vaccine receives it this winter. It will help reduce the need for in-patient care for flu and release capacity for Covid-19 treatment.”

Community pharmacies have provided a national NHS flu vaccine programme in England since 2015. This winter we face the challenges of doing so in a Covid-aware environment. Data from Australia suggests that we need to prepare for a significant increase in demand[1].

Malcolm continued: “The CCA’s members have proven their ability to rapidly change how they operate during the pandemic. They are ready and willing to work differently by providing the vaccine in locations such as car parks, town halls or places of worship. But regulations currently prevent us from taking this approach. New models for delivering the flu programme may also help the NHS deliver other vaccines, such as a Covid-19 vaccine, if and when one becomes available.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair said: “It is crucial that as many people as possible are protected against flu during winter and this year it is more important than ever that GP practices are given relevant details to plan for this as soon possible.

“Sufficient supplies of flu vaccinations must be made available to all providers to ensure that everyone in an ‘at-risk’ group can receive the vaccine. Practices must also have adequate access to protective equipment to ensure doctors, patients and staff are kept safe.

“What’s more, the BMA believes that a national public health campaign is essential to ensuring the public understand what to expect.”

The full policy paper is available here: https://bit.ly/CCA_flu

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