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Expect ‘logistical challenges’ obtaining only flu vaccine for over-65s

Pharmacy teams should expect “logistical challenges” when delivering the only vaccine they are allowed to offer over-65s this flu season, according to PSNC.

NHS England and Public Health England wrote to pharmacists and GPs in February to tell them that the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) is “the best option for all 65s and over”.

Seqirus, which manufacturers Fluad – the only aTIV vaccine that will be available in the UK – initially told C+D that any new orders for the vaccine would not be delivered until October. But by April it had confirmed that orders “will be re-phased, once they have all been placed, with the aim of giving all customers split deliveries across September, October and November”.

In a summary of its May meeting, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said: “The phased deliveries, and the likely need to initially target the vaccine to the highest risk patients, will present logistical challenges for pharmacy teams and general practices alike.”

“The best solution to support this targeting may necessitate coordination of activity by local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs), local medical committees and clinical commissioning groups,” it advised.

Working group set up

A joint working group made up of PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and the British Medical Association has been set up “to work through the practical implications that the phased supply of aTIV will present this flu season”.

“PSNC will continue to work, through the joint working group, to ensure that contractors and LPCs receive as much information and guidance as possible to allow them to plan their flu vaccination services,” it added.

The negotiator had “also stressed to NHS England and PHE the need for careful communications to patients about the changes this year”, it said.

When NHS England announced its vaccine guidance in February, City and Hackney LPC chief executive Hitesh Patel raised concerns that the commissioner was "putting all its eggs" in one basket by relying on one supplier for over-65s.

How are you preparing for the 2018-19 flu season?

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