What is Happening About Flu Vaccinations This Year?
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in demand for flu vaccines, it has also meant an increase in the number of patients who are eligible to be vaccinated. There has been a lot of information in the news recently regarding availability of the flu jab this year and we wanted to let our patients know some background information about what we are doing here at Binscombe Medical Centre.
Flu vaccines are often ordered up to a year in advance and deliveries are split across multiple dates. This usually means we have to vaccinate patients in stages and we don’t like to plan too far ahead in case the deliveries are delayed – this has happened in previous years, and led to us having to cancel a fully booked clinic at the last minute which was challenging, as I’m sure you can imagine!
We use two different vaccines, one for patients who are over 65 (also licensed for patients who are currently 64 but will turn 65 by 31st March 2021), and another for patients who are under 65 with certain health conditions. In addition, children aged 2 and 3 or in an at risk group are vaccinated with the Fluenz nasal spray.
The different vaccines are usually delivered on different dates which means one group of patients is likely to be invited to a clinic on an earlier date. This year the vaccine for the 65 and over’s group arrived first, 3 weeks before the vaccine for those under 65, so clinics were planned to reflect this.
Once the clinic dates are scheduled, we inform eligible patients that they can book an appointment; contact will be made either by text message, telephone, email or letter. This year, we contacted our shielding patients first before starting to contact everyone else.
The government announced that patients aged 50-64 who would not normally be eligible would be able to receive the flu jab this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on government guidance, this group of people will not be invited for the vaccine until November.
If you are in an eligible patient group and have not received an invitation yet, please do not worry. If you are eligible, you will be invited but we won’t do this until we know the dates of our next clinics.
We are receiving an extraordinary amount of phone calls regarding the flu vaccine this year and we really would like to appeal to our patients to wait and only phone us once they have received communication asking them to make an appointment. Our phones have a limited number of incoming lines and our system is struggling to cope so please do wait until you are invited.
As an alternative to being vaccinated in the surgery, some of the local pharmacies are starting to offer the flu jab now and this is a free service for eligible patients. Please also bear in mind that the flu season doesn’t normally start until December so there is still plenty of time to have the vaccine.
The past few months have been challenging for everyone and we appreciate that you may be upset and frustrated by the news that you will have to wait. The team has been working very hard during the pandemic and we would like to ask our patients not to take out their frustrations on our staff and to treat them respectfully.
The health and wellbeing of our patients is extremely important to us and we would like to thank you for your continued support.