Community pharmacy delivers more than 5 million flu vaccinations for the first time

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed it is considering expanding the National Flu Vaccination Service to secondary school-aged children in England.
Older man getting influenza vaccination

Community pharmacies administered 5,007,578 flu vaccinations in England during the 2022/2023 flu season, the first time the number has topped 5 million since the service was launched in 2015.

The Advanced Service Flu Report, published by the NHS Business Services Authority, showed the number of vaccinations delivered between September 2022 and March 2023 under the National Flu Vaccination Service.

The 5 million total represents a significant increase from the approximately 4.85 million vaccinations delivered in the 2021/2022 winter flu season, and continues an upward trend in administration numbers since the service was launched.

However, the total number may increase because pharmacy submissions for reimbursement are accepted up to six months after the dispensing month. 

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at Community Pharmacy England, said: “This season’s flu vaccination figures are yet another example of the incredible contribution that our members and their teams make to protect the public and the NHS as part of a key public health programme.

“Given the significant financial and workforce pressures that our members continue to face, this year-on-year growth is a fantastic achievement and a testament to their hard work and dedication.”

Jasmine Shah, head of advice and support at the National Pharmacy Association, commented: “Having protected record numbers of people against flu in the previous year, pharmacies did brilliantly to go even further by breaking through the 5 million milestone.

“This is a significant contribution to the overall NHS effort to keep people well and manage winter pressures.”

“Millions of people now choose pharmacy for their jabs because of the convenient access and their positive experience in previous years,” she added.

A letter from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issuing guidance for the 2023/2024 flu vaccination programme, updated on 8 June 2023, said: “The delivery of the NHS flu immunisation programme over recent seasons has been both ambitious and challenging as we sought to offer protection to as many eligible people as possible, exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) target for those aged 65 years and above for a third season running.”

While the guidance outlines the same eligibility criteria as 2022/2023, the DHSC’s letter said that an expansion to secondary school-aged children is being considered.

Secondary school pupils have already been confirmed to be eligible for a free flu vaccine from 2023/2024 in Scotland and Wales.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2023, Vol 310, No 7974;310(7974)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.189063

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