GPs told to order flu vaccines now

The number of patients eligible for NHS flu jabs could increase again this winter according to a letter from Dr David Sainsbury, DoH director of immunisation.

Despite the decision on additional categories not being due until March, GPs in England are being told to order vaccine for the 2007/8 flu campaign now.

However, the poor uptake figures of existing at-risk groups, the delayed vaccine and the mild winter will make it hard for GPs to estimate their needs he added.

In December, the DoH announced that up to 60,000 poultry workers should be given seasonal flu vaccines on the NHS between 22 January and 31 March.

Last summer, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's flu subgroup recommended that pregnant women should have the jab in their second or third trimester if their baby is due in flu season.

RCGP immunisation spokesman Dr Kassianos said: ‘We shall have to wait for the DoH to announce what new risk groups we shall need to target.'

Individuals at risk who may be targeted are children of six months to five years and people aged 50 years and over, he said.

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