NHS axes free flu jabs for adults aged 50 to 64

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NHS axes free flu jabs for adults aged 50 to 64

Adults aged 50 to 64 will not be eligible for free flu jabs in the coming vaccination season, NHS England & Improvement has revealed.

NHSE&I published its flu vaccination reimbursement letter for 2022-23 yesterday, setting out information on the vaccines that will be reimbursable as part of the advanced service and the eligible cohorts.

Contractors will only be able to claim for vaccinations for the cohorts that were eligible prior to the pandemic, including people aged 65 and older, at-risk adults aged 18-64, carers, care home residents and pregnant women.

This means the special provisions that have been in place for the last two years offering free jabs to adults aged 50-64, children aged 11-15 and primary care staff have been scrapped.

The same vaccine products will be reimbursable as in previous flu seasons, with aQIC and QIVr considered the first line choices in over-65s and QIVc and QIVr the first line for other groups. Full details on the reimbursable vaccines are set out in the letter.

The letter says it is “not anticipated” that the Department of Health and Social Care will procure any vaccine stock centrally in 2022-23, meaning contractors are “strongly urged” to order enough to serve their local eligible population “to provide coverage at least equal to and ideally exceeding 2021-22 uptake levels”.

Contractors are also advised to place orders with more than one manufacturer, as production processes and commissioning arrangements may mean some products are only available in limited quantities.

NHSE&I is hoping to over a vaccine to 100 per cent of those in eligible groups, and to reach uptake levels “at least” as high as the record levels of 2021-22 for each cohort.

A number of contractors have expressed their concern about the inclusion criteria as they had already had to place orders prior to the NHS letter being published.

Leeds-based contractor Ashley Cohen tweeted: “Why are we told about the scrapping of NHS 50-64 year old flu cohorts for 22/23 the day after pharmacies have to purchase next seasons stocks... surely some notice would help.”

A PSNC spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News that contractors should make sure to read the annual reimbursement letter before finalising any orders.

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