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Adult flu jabs pushed back to October for 2024/25 campaign

by Rima Evans
14 March 2024

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The timing of this year’s flu vaccination campaign has been altered – with most adults to be given the jab at the start of October rather than September, NHS England has announced.

A September 1 start date will remain in place for children and pregnant women, however.

And no changes have been announced to the eligible cohorts (see box below).

Delaying administering the jab until the beginning of October is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that this provides ‘optimal protection during the highest risk period.’

Guidance issued this week in a letter said evidence shows that the flu vaccine’s effectiveness can wane over time in adults.  

Therefore, holding clinics from October and ‘on the understanding’ they will mostly be concluded by the end of November means vaccines will be administered ‘closer to the time that the flu season commonly starts’ and to when it peaks in December or January.

The exact October start date will be confirmed by NHS England ‘in due course’.

The flu programme should begin on September 1, as in previous years for children, the guidance explained, since vaccine protection lasts much longer for this group, and flu usually circulates among children before adults. A September start (or as soon as the vaccine is available) would also ‘provide early protection to children and reduce transmission to the wider population’.

Pregnant women and adults for whom there are clinical reasons not to delay should be offered the jab in September too.

Meanwhile, frontline healthcare staff and non-clinical staff who have contact with patients should be given the vaccine in October.

Practices will not be able to claim reimbursement for the vaccine given to staff nor receive any payment, it’s been confirmed.

Last year’s flu campaign caused logistical problems for practices as the start date was changed twice last minute, prompting criticism from the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) and the BMA.

Timings and eligibility for free NHS flu vaccine

The following should be vaccinated from 1 September 2024:

  • pregnant women
  • all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2024
  • primary school aged children (from Reception to Year 6)
  • secondary school aged children (from Year 7 to Year 11)
  • all children in clinical risk groups aged from 6 months to less than 18 years. 

The following should be vaccinated from October 2024 (exact date still to be confirmed):

  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those aged 18 years to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, Influenza Chapter 19)
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants.

Source: DHSC and UKHSA

Vaccines for practices to order that are reimbursable

Cohort Reimbursable vaccines
Aged 65 years and overaQIV or QIVr (QIVc may be used if others are unavailable) 
Aged 18 to 64 years in eligible groupsQIVc or QIV (QIVe may be used if others are unavailable)
Children aged 6 months to less than 2 years in clinical risk groupsQIVc (QIVe may be used if other is unavailable)
Children aged 2 to less than 18 years in eligible groups (including clinical risk groups)LAIV; or QIVc where more suitable
Source: DHSC and UKHSA