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At-risk flu target set after 'significant' uptake drop

The average uptake rate for at-risk patients fell to 45% last year

Pharmacists and GPs should aim to vaccinate "at least 55%" of at-risk patients under the age of 65, says NHS England

A "significant reduction" in the proportion of at-risk patients vaccinated for flu last year has led NHS England to set a specific uptake target.

Pharmacists and GPs should aim to vaccinate "at least 55%" of at-risk patients under the age of 65, the commissioning body said in its flu plan, published this week.

As part of the national pharmacy flu service, which has been recommissioned for a second year, pharmacists are able to vaccinate a range of 18-65-year-old patients. These include pregnant women and those with chronic renal, heart or respiratory conditions.

Uptake rate fell to 45%

The average uptake rate for these groups fell to "around 45%" last flu season, NHS England stressed.

The national flu service will "again provide an excellent opportunity to inform and vaccinate people in these groups", it said. "The majority of these people visit their community pharmacies regularly to collect repeat prescriptions," NHS England added.

Earlier this month, GP body the British Medical Association repeated its call for the pharmacy flu service to be scrapped unless it is proven to increase uptake rates.

GP flu service extended

GPs will be able to vaccinate children in school year three as part of their 2016-17 flu scheme, NHS England said in the flu plan. They have previously only been able to vaccinate those in years one and two.

Public Health England's evaluation of child vaccination pilots in 2014-15 revealed that uptake rates for school children were higher in pharmacies than GP surgeries.  


How are you preparing to deliver the national flu service? 

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Andrew Paxton, Community pharmacist

The problem last year was that it was widely known that the 2014-5 vaccine was relatively ineffective so it was assumed that the 2016-6 one was too

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