Pharmacy teams should use the flu stock they have already ordered to deliver this year’s expanded flu programme in the first instance, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

It comes as the Government announced the expanded cohort, which is set to target 30 million patients - including all those over 50, shielded patients and their households and all school year groups up to Year 7.

However, a spokesperson told the Pharmacist's sister publication Pulse that pharmacists are responsible for ordering the vaccination stock needed for their eligible adult population directly from manufacturers and should use the locally-procured stock they have already ordered to deliver the programme in the first instance.

Information on how to access the additional central stock will be provided in September, they added.

The DHSC also clarified that the expanded cohort means up to 37m people will be eligible for the free flu vaccination this season - an increase of 12m compared to the 25m eligible last year.

The Government is anticipating that 30m will be vaccinated this year thanks to increased take-up and the expanded cohort - compared with around 15m in 2019/20 - they added.

A spokesperson said the DHSC believes it has sufficient vaccines to meet demand, accounting for the expectation that not all those eligible will come forward.

This comes as manufacturers warned their flu vaccine supply will be hampered by an ‘unprecedented’ worldwide surge in demand.

Last week, the Pharmacist learned that one of the UK’s key suppliers of flu vaccines will not be able to get almost a third of ordered stock to community pharmacies and GP practices until November.

A version of this story first appeared in our sister title Pulse.