The Royal College of GPs has responded to NHS England’s confirmation of the expansion of the flu vaccination programme
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The expansion of this winter’s flu vaccination programme to include patients aged 50-64 is sensible, and is something the college has supported since its announcement this summer. Flu can be a horrible and serious illness. We want to avoid as many patients as possible succumbing to flu this winter, while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and resources are even more stretched than usual, and the flu jab is the best protection against it.
“GPs and our teams up and down the country have been doing a fantastic job so far delivering the flu vaccination programme to those most at risk in a ‘COVID safe’ way. However, we mustn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge facing the profession to deliver this expanded programme – particularly as general practice is also likely to play a central role in delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Having two mass vaccination programmes running simultaneously is unprecedented – and we must also be able to continue delivering the vital care our patients rely on us for.
“The college has developed guidance to support GPs to deliver the flu vaccination programme on such a mass scale and in accordance with social distancing measures. We have also called for assurance around supply of the flu jab for the expanded group of people now eligible for it – which we have received. We’re also encouraged to hear that work is ongoing to expand the workforce to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s is now vital that GPs and our teams receive details of how this will work in conjunction with the COVID-19 programme, as soon as they are available – as well as clarity on what tasks can be scaled back in general practice to create capacity to do this alongside continuing to deliver the vital care GPs and our teams do so on a daily basis.”