Community pharmacy contractors are advised to anticipate increased request for flu jabs after NHS writes to 1.6 million people who have yet to get vaccinated.

In a bid to vaccinate all 50-64-year olds against winter flu, the NHS has written to this cohort, asking them to get their flu vaccinations immediately at their respective community pharmacies.

The correspondence from the NHS provides practical information on why flu vaccinations are still important, the safety measures being taken by providers and how to make contact with pharmacies.

In addition, a similar exercise is being carried out for care workers. “The letters have already started to be delivered and contractors are therefore advised to anticipate the potential for increased requests for NHS flu vaccinations over the next couple of weeks,” the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in an update in response to the latest move by the NHS to raise the number of winter vaccinations.

Winter flu related activity, including GP consultations and hospital admissions, has remained low this year. However, flu vaccine uptake is higher in all groups compared to this year when compared to the last year.

According to the latest provisional data released last week, the flu vaccine uptakes are…

  • 80.3 per cent in above 65 year olds
  • 51.5 per cent in under 65 years in a clinical risk group
  • 43.1 per cent in pregnant women
  • 54 per cent in two year olds
  • 56.5 per cent in three year olds
  • 47.5 per cent in school-age children (as of November 30)
  • 70.6 per cent in healthcare workers (as of November 30)

Commenting on the steep rise in winter flu vaccination, Jo Churchill, the minister in charge of pharmacy, wrote on Twitter: “Fantastic to see that despite the unique challenges of this winter, more over 65s than ever before have got their flu vaccination- over 80%! Every year Health & Care staff do an incredible job rolling out flu vaccine, and this year Covid-19, to protect us all.”

A provisional data on the influenza vaccine uptake by the frontline healthcare workers showed 70.6 per cent were vaccinated by November 30, 2020 from 96.1 per cent of all organisations, compared to 61.5 per cent vaccinated in the previous season by November 30, 2019.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, head of flu at Public Health England, said: “The flu vaccine saves lives. It is therefore very encouraging to see record-high uptake rates this season, especially among the groups most vulnerable to flu, who are also most at-risk from Covid-19.

“There is still time to get vaccinated against flu and we urge anyone who is eligible to take up the offer to help protect yourself, your family and the NHS.”

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