Practices have been told to offer the pneumococcal vaccine throughout the year, rather than in line with the seasonal flu programme, to ensure vaccines are consistently available.
NHS England said practices should continue to vaccinate on this basis ‘until further notice’.
The updated 2020/21 flu and pneumonia DES said: ‘Due to vaccine supply constraints, practices are requested to vaccinate eligible patients throughout the year rather than in line with the seasonal influenza vaccination programme to ensure a consistent flow of vaccine availability.’
Completion by November
On this year’s flu programme, the document said practices should aim to ‘schedule their immunisation services to match vaccine supply’ and complete vaccinations by the end of November.
It added that flu can circulate ‘considerably later’ than this, and clinicians should use their clinical judgement ‘to assess the needs of the individual patients for immunisation beyond this point’.
The updated DES confirmed that GP remuneration for the flu jab will remain at £10.06 this year.
The document also said that the phased eligibility of people in the aged 50 to 64 cohort – which may take place in November and December subject to vaccine supply – will be formally announced later in the flu season, with each year group to be considered separately.
An extension announcement ‘may relate to just one year group or more than one year group,’ it added.
Practices are also required to make ‘at least one’ request asking patients to provide their ethnicity status as part of this year’s flu programme.
The document said: ‘Practices must include within at least one written communication (including letters and SMS text messages) offering vaccination to eligible patients, a request that the patient advises the practice of their ethnicity status if they have not previously provided this information’.
Where provided, this information must be recorded in the patient record, it added.
According to the document, practices will be invited to participate in the flu programme by their CCG before 7 September, and must respond no later than 14 September.