More than 870,500 flu jabs have been delivered by community pharmacies since the beginning of the flu season, data has shown.
Community pharmacists gave out 870,859 flu vaccines between 1 September and 5 November, according to figures published by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
This is an increase of nearly 20,000 (19,261) vaccinations compared with the same period last year.
Rising numbers despite shortages
Following recommendation by Government body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a new adjuvanted trivalent inactivated flu vaccine (aTVI) was introduced for the over-65s for this year’s flu season. The vaccine could result in 2,000 fewer hospitalisations, prevent 700 hospital deaths and reduce GP consultations by 30,000, Public Health England (PHE) said.
In August, NHS England said that pharmacies and GP surgeries would receive three batches of the aTVI over three months – 40% in September, 20% in October and a further 40% in November – due to reported shortages of the vaccine.
Despite staged deliveries and product shortages, pharmacists delivered more flu jabs over the past two months than during the same time last year.
PSNC argued that the total number of vaccinations administered by pharmacists this year will be even higher as not all contractors use an electronic system to record their vaccine administration.
Over-65s biggest patient group vaccinated
According to PSNC, the biggest patient group vaccinated by pharmacists so far this year is the over-65s.
Data published last week (1 November) by PHE revealed that flu vaccine uptakes in the most at-risk groups at GP practices are falling compared to the same week last year.
PHE estimated that 27% of the under-65s received a flu jab during the week ending 28 October compared to 33% last year. The biggest drop was seen in the over-65s, with 39% getting vaccinated during the same week this year compared to 58% at the same period in 2017.