The national flu vaccination service will run in 2018-19, pharmacy minister Steve Brine has confirmed .

The service will include a new adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV), licensed in 2017.

Answering a Parliamentary question, Mr Brine said Public Health England (PHE) 'has updated their advice in the Green Book chapter on influenza so that clinicians are aware of the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in relation to the aTIV’.

He said: ‘In addition, NHS England wrote to general practitioners and clinical commissioning groups, via NHS England local teams, in December 2017 to provide an update on the use of the aTIV vaccine for 2018-19.

‘This update will also be made available to community pharmacies as part of confirming that the advanced flu vaccination service has been recommissioned in early 2018.'

‘More effective’

The JCVI said that 'given the low influenza vaccine effectiveness seen in the over 65-74 year olds over several A(H3N2) dominated seasons, and non-significant vaccine effectiveness for all types of influenza in the over 75s, the use of aTIV in those aged 65 years and over would be both more effective than the non adjuvanted vaccines currently in use, and also cost-effective’.

Last week (11 January), Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, urged NHS staff to get vaccinated as ‘substantial levels of seasonal influenza have placed further strain on primary and secondary care’.

Unprecedented levels

Latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the UK is experiencing the worst flu season in the past seven years.

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, said: ‘Our data continues to show that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we're seeing more people admitted to hospital with flu.

‘In terms of hospital admission, this is the most significant flu season since the winter of 2010/11 and the preceding pandemic year of 2009, although it isn’t an epidemic.’

The JCVI highly recommends pharmacists to ‘switch vaccination of the 75 years and upwards age group to adjuvanted vaccine.

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