New guidance for pharmacy contractors and GP surgeries on providing the 2018-19 flu vaccination service has been issued by NHS England, with support from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and the British Medical Association (BMA).

A letter issued to pharmacists and GPs contains a reminder of the clinical recommendations for different patient groups. According to NHS England, in the coming flu vaccination season, adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV) (Fluad, Seqirus) should be offered to all those aged 65 and over, while adults aged under 65 in clinical at-risk groups should be offered a quadrivalent influenza vaccine.

The guidance sets out a three-phased prioritisation approach to vaccinating patients aged 65 years and older:

  • First priority should be given to those aged 75 years and over or those in a care home
  • Second priority should be given to those aged 65-74 years in a clinical risk group
  • Third priority should be given to those aged 65-74 years NOT in a clinical risk group.

The guidance says pharmacy teams should “use this information to inform the provision of vaccines from September to November 2018, but where the appropriate vaccine is available, and an eligible patient presents at the pharmacy seeking vaccination, they should be vaccinated at that point.

“If the recommended vaccine is not available, the patient should be asked to return when the vaccine will be available.”

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: “The use of specific vaccines for the two main patient groups should ensure the impact for patients and the NHS of the 2018/19 vaccination service is greater than in recent years. The phased delivery of aTIV will, however, present logistical challenges which need to be planned for.

“All contractors should read the NHS England guidance and consider whether they can adopt a prioritised approach for the vaccination of 65 years and older patients, noting the important guidance that where the appropriate vaccine is available, and an eligible patient presents at the pharmacy seeking vaccination, they should be vaccinated at that point.”

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