The Royal College of GPs has called for adequate resources to enable general practice to successfully deliver the UK’s expanded influenza vaccination programme.
Prof Martin Marshall, RCGP Chair, said the College is supportive of measures to expand the flu vaccination programme this year as a precaution to stop the NHS, including general practice, becoming overwhelmed should there be a second wave of COVID-19 this winter.
“The two main challenges were always going to be procuring enough supply of the vaccine, and logistics of delivering it to patients on a scale potentially twice as big as usual,” he said.
Preparations are already underway to deliver the expanded programme, and patients in at-risk groups who normally receive a flu vaccine will already be covered by the vaccine supply that GP practices would have ordered earlier this year.
"For the extra cohort of patients included in the expanded flu programme, for example 50-64 year olds, we have asked for assurance from the Government that there is enough supply of vaccines to go around. If there isn’t, then GPs need clear guidance who, outside of those patients most at risk, should be prioritised for a flu jab – and there needs to be clear public messaging that this is the case to manage patients’ expectations,” Prof Marshall said.
In terms of delivering the expanded programme, the College has produced guidance for GP practices on how to do so safely during the pandemic.
"General practice is going to need adequate resources to deliver the expanded vaccination programme, including sufficient supply of appropriate PPE. As well as greater clarity about supply and managing patients’ expectations, we also need to know how general practice is expected to work with colleagues in community pharmacy, particularly in settings such as care homes, to ensure a joined-up and seamless vaccination programme is delivered to patients," Prof Marshall added.