Community pharmacies will receive 40% of their supply of the trivalent flu vaccine in September 2018, with the rest following after that, in order to ensure an “equitable supply”.
The adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV) will be used for patients aged 65 years and over in the coming flu season for the first time, but there is only one licensed vaccine in the UK — Fluad made by the company Seqirus.
A joint letter from the British Medical Association, NHS England and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee dated 2 August 2018 says that officials have been “communicating closely” with Seqirus to ensure adequate doses of the vaccine are available to meet the needs of the UK population and an “equitable supply” of the vaccine for all providers.
The letter states: “To help ensure that there is equal access for patients and that all vaccination providers are treated fairly, the split deliveries in 2018–2019 will apply to all customers across all UK countries. Given the impact that flu can have on vulnerable individuals, it is important that aTIV is used in the flu vaccination programme as soon as possible.
“GPs and community pharmacies will all receive 40% of their aTIV order in September, 20% in October and 40% in November.”
Guidance released alongside the letter advises pharmacies to prioritise people aged 75 years and over and those in care homes for vaccination between September and November 2018, although guidance adds: “It is advisable to opportunistically vaccinate eligible patients presenting in practice, if the recommended vaccine is available, rather than asking them to return later in the season.”