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September 2021

Chaotic start to seasonal flu campaign



This year’s flu vaccination campaign has got off to a rocky start with warnings from UK’s biggest supplier of flu vaccines that deliveries will be delayed by up to 2 weeks.

Seqirus has written to practices informing them of a one- to two-week delay of scheduled vaccine delivery, which was due to ‘a range of unexpected logistical challenges, including transportation difficulties.’

This year’s flu vaccination programme is the biggest ever, with practices due to vaccinate 35 million people, but practices have been advised that they will not have access to central, Government-procured vaccines stock.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘This issue is likely to affect a significant proportion of practices, and have a serious impact on practice workloads.

‘Many practices will have spent the last few weeks meticulously planning for their flu vaccination programme, inviting and booking patients in for their jabs, only now to have to contact them all again to cancel or reschedule appointments.’

Nurse practitioner Liz Bryant contacted Practice Nurse to say that all 500 patients booked into a Saturday vaccination clinic would have to be contacted to rearrange their appointments.

Flu cases could be 50% higher this winter than in a typical season as a result of low levels for natural immunity against the infection.

Low seasonal flu activities last year, the result of social distancing and mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, mean that natural immunity against seasonal flu is likely to be low this winter – making flu vaccination a high priority.

As last year, the programme will include people aged 50 and over, irrespective of clinical risk.

Last season was deemed the most successful ever, with 80.9% of those aged 65 years and over in England receiving the flu vaccine. Practices have been urged to attempt to achieve the same high uptake this year.

Practice Nurse 2021;51(7):7