Exclusive: Practices may have to open longer to give swine flu jabs

Practices will have to open at weekends and run vaccination clinics in extended hours to vaccinate all priority group patients against swine flu by the end of the year, experts warn.

Despite DoH advice that swine flu and seasonal flu jabs can be administered at the same time, GPs say they cannot justify delaying seasonal jabs while they wait for swine flu jabs to arrive. In addition, most practices do not have the space to store both, they warn.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the CMO for England, has said the vaccination programme should begin in October.

He wants all 11.5 million patients in priority groups, including health workers, vaccinated by the end of December.

Individuals aged six months to 65 years in seasonal flu at-risk groups will receive the jab first, followed by pregnant women, all household contacts of immuno-compromised individuals and people over 65 in the current seasonal flu risk groups.

Dr George Kassianos, RCGP immunisation spokesman and Berkshire GP, said that practices would simply not be able to cope with a swine flu vaccination programme and a seasonal flu campaign in addition to treating other illnesses.

‘We will have to open on weekends and have vaccination clinics in extended hours if we are to vaccinate all the priority groups by the end of the year.

‘It will take much longer to administer the swine flu jabs as they are in vials and are not in pre-filled syringes.'

Professor David Salisbury, DoH immunisation director, told GP newspaper that practices will be able to reduce their workload by giving patients the swine flu jab when they attend for their seasonal flu jab.

But Dr Kassianos warned that in practice, this would be very difficult for GPs to do.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

  • Read the full version of this story in this week's GP dated 21 August.

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