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Flu vaccine uptake in over-65s down 14 percentage points on last year

39% of over-65s had received a flu jab by October 21
39% of over-65s had received a flu jab by October 21

Uptake of the flu vaccine among English patients over 65 has dropped by 14 percentage points compared with last year, according to government figures.

Across this patient group, 39.4% had received a flu jab this season by October 21, compared with 53.7% by the same date in 2017, according to data from Public Health England’s (PHE) weekly national influenza report published yesterday (November 1).

Uptake was down by 2 percentage points among under-65s and by 1 percentage point among pregnant women, according to PHE.

PHE “monitoring the situation carefully”

PHE told C+D it is “monitoring the situation carefully” and expects “the coverage to catch up over the next few weeks as more stock is delivered”.

“It is important that those eligible are protected before flu starts to circulate, usually in late December,” PHE head of immunisation Mary Ramsay said.

Ms Ramsay advised pharmacies without stock to inform patients that the vaccine will be available “over the next few weeks” and book them in for a future clinic.

Fluad concerns

Contractors raised concerns in August about limited supplies and phased deliveries of the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) vaccine, Fluad, the only vaccine pharmacies in England are allowed to offer over-65s this flu season.

In guidance sent to surgeries and pharmacies in September, NHS England said GPs and pharmacies are expected to “move stock between locations” to ensure both the aTIV and quadrivalent flu vaccines are distributed to “reflect actual demand”.

Has your pharmacy experienced flu vaccine shortages?

Mitesh Patel, Community pharmacist

Data doesn't include vaccinations done at the pharmacy.

James Waldron, Editorial

Hi Mitesh,

Before we published this article, Public Health England confirmed to us that this data does include vaccinations delivered in pharmacies.


James Waldron, C+D Editor

C A, Community pharmacist

My September figures were up on last year but my October figures were severely hampered by supply... I wonder why?

SIMON MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

I ordered 100 in sept last year as i'd only done 70 patients in the 60 + group the year before, so I assumed this would be more than enough. This was before DOH announced it was the only one to be used in 65 + pts. Now have 9 left !!!

A Hussain, Senior Management

GP's only know how to signpost stuff they don't want to do.  We had vaccine, told the surgery so and surgery staff were still telling patients that we didn't (under instruction).

C A, Community pharmacist

About the only thing I get signposted is BP checks - Surgery "We don't have time to do BP checks, but if you ask at a Pharmacy, they'll do it for you!".


Le sigh - more free tasks to whittle away pharmacy time.

A B, Community pharmacist

I challenged sequiris on their supply model in a previous article:

They were saying that there had been unprecedented ordering demand. They assumed that all pharmacies and doctors would order the exact quantity they would need for the flu season. That was never going to work, anyone who works in either sector would say they order more than they need. Pharmacies are always trying to better last years uptake so just because they did say 200 jabs last year, doesn't mean they would only order 200 for this year. The same goes for doctors surgeries, they have to have enough to cover all eligible patients on their books (or a very high % at least). They can't predict exactly how many patients will go elsewhere for jabs or not turn up at all, just roughly estimate.

My arguments fell on deaf ears so I'm not surprised it has been a shambles so far.

As for the point about pharmacies and Drs moving stock between each other, I think PHE are living in some sort of fantasy land if they think that will happen (unless the two places are owned by the same group of course).

C A, Community pharmacist

"unprecedented ordering demand"

Since no-one ordered Fluad last year and it's mandated this year, I wonder why...

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

Next years return percentage has been reduced as well, although GPs get a higher % to reurn (money back) than pharmacies!

Dave Downham, Manager

Quelle surprise! You can't jab if there ain't anything to jab with.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

It's a bit of a 'stating the bleedin' obvious' article isn't it?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This is no surprise. However, it will be interesting to see the final figures for uptake. As for the NHSE directive that patients should be signposted, there's be precious little signposting from our local GPs (Again, no surprise) 

Job of the week

Pharmacist Manager