NHSE: Pharmacies can order flu jabs for 50-64 year olds ‘immediately’
Community pharmacies in England can “immediately” begin ordering flu vaccine stock for patients aged 50 to 64 after last week’s U-turn, NHS England & Improvement has said.
NHSE&I announced last Friday that this age group will be eligible for free NHS flu jabs from October 15 once higher-priority groups have been reached, signalling a reversal of the decision in March not to include them. Children in school years 7-9 were also added to the list of eligible cohorts last week.
Amid concerns from pharmacy contractors that they were at the mercy of sudden policy shifts with regard to sourcing stock for this year’s vaccination drive, NHSE&I said yesterday that manufacturers of flu vaccines for adults “have advised that orders can be placed immediately and are still being taken for vaccine deliveries from mid-October”.
For 50-64-year-olds who are not in a clinical at-risk group, the chosen product is the QIVe vaccine. QiVc and QiVr products may also be used, but “should only be offered where it does not divert stock from clinical at-risk groups and those aged 64 years and over,” said NHSE&I.
The Department of Health and Social Care told contractors to “order additional stock directly from manufacturers for this additional cohort, based on vaccine coverage that was achieved over the last two years”.
Sanofi manufacturers the QiVr and QivE vaccines, the latter of which is also available from Viatris. Seqirus is the sole manufacturer of the CiVc vaccine.
NHSE&I added: “Due to manufacturing processes and commissioning arrangements, some vaccines may only be available in limited quantities. Therefore, it is recommended that orders are placed with more than one manufacturer to ensure providers receive sufficient stock.
“We strongly urge providers to order sufficient volumes of clinically appropriate vaccine to serve their eligible populations in order to provide coverage at least equal to and ideally exceeding 2021/22 uptake levels.”
However, the PSNC has urged caution, saying: “In 2021/22, community pharmacies vaccinated 2.2 million 50-64 year olds, however, they could be vaccinated from 1st September.
“The delay in the start of vaccination of the cohort to 15th October 2022 is likely to impact on the number of eligible patients that can be vaccinated; contractors will need to consider that when placing any orders for additional vaccine.”
Vaccines for eligible children are centrally procured by the UKHSA and supplied free of charge to providers, who will not be reimbursed for these.