Last reviewed 13 October 2020

Guidance has been issued to GPs in England about how they can order more influenza vaccines to ensure 30 million people can receive the jab this flu season, which tends to start in December.

The Government's largest ever flu programme includes a drive to increase uptake in existing cohorts eligible for a free vaccine under the NHS programme, and expansion to new groups. In order to support the expansion, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it has secured an additional supply of flu vaccines, which will arrive later in the flu season, to top up local supplies once they run low.

GPs and pharmacies are responsible for procuring flu vaccine but in addition to this the Government has agreed to procure over 8 million vaccines that providers can access once their own stock is empty, to help deliver the vaccine to 30 million people.

Should GPs deliver all vaccines from their own stock, they can place orders from mid-October with suppliers for the Government-secured stock to be delivered from November.

The new DHSC guidance explains the process that GPs should follow to access the Government’s additional vaccines from the central supply.

It states that GP practices will be provided the DHSC vaccines free of charge but will only be able to claim an Item of Service Fee for each DHSC supplied vaccine that is administered.

Those eligible for the free flu vaccine, alongside frontline health and social care workers, have already begun to receive their vaccinations. Those aged 50 to 64 will also be eligible for a free vaccine but will be invited later in the season. Once they are invited, they will be eligible to receive vaccines from the Government-secured supply.

The DHSC said more than 10 million vaccines have already been delivered, with a further 20 million "scheduled for delivery" in October, November and December. The DHSC added that patients "do not have to rush to get vaccinated" because "flu levels generally don’t begin to rise until December".

The new guidance, DHSC Guidance for General Practice on Accessing DHSC Centrally Supplied Flu Vaccines, is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accessing-government-secured-flu-vaccines-guidance-for-gps