Publishing the flu specifications for 2021/2022, NHS England also revealed that practices will be permitted to vaccinate non-registered patients under this year’s enhanced service.
The document notes that the flu campaign will run from 1 September 2021 to 31 March 2022, with all practices invited to sign up to the ES before midnight on Monday 16 August.
A second service specification allows surgeries to continue to vaccinate children aged 2-3 against flu, while NHS England has also suggested that GPs could be allowed to jab over 18s ‘using vaccines ordered and supplied centrally’.
Flu vaccine campaign
The enhanced service document provides an update on the likelihood of COVID booster jabs being administered alongside flu vaccinations, stating that ‘early evidence...supports the delivery of both vaccines at the same time’.
NHS England has said that practices working as part of a PCN may choose to work together to deliver flu vaccinations. It adds that a GP practice ‘may require the ability to sub-contract the delivery of the required clinical services to another GP practice in the PCN Grouping or another party.’
Where a vaccination is given to a registered patient of the GP practice by a provider other than the GP practice - and the patient’s record is not automatically updated electronically - the GP practice must update the records on the same day the vaccine is administered.
Those taking part in the ES will receive a payment of £10.06 for each completed vaccine treatment, with surgeries asked to make monthly payment claims.
All frontline health and social care workers are expected to have influenza vaccination to protect those they care for - locum GPs are also specifically mentioned within the eligible cohorts.
In an official communication to GP practices, NHS England leaders said: ‘Today, we have published the two enhanced service specifications for the seasonal influenza vaccination programme 2021/22.
‘The service specifications for 2021/22 are largely based on the 2020/21 flu service specifications, with the exception that the seasonal influenza vaccination programme specification (covering adults and at-risk groups) will be commissioned as an enhanced service this year to enable greater responsiveness to any subsequent JCVI advice or government policy.
‘A further key change to the seasonal influenza vaccination programme 2021/22 enhanced service specification is that for this season, practices will be able to vaccinate various cohorts of patients that are not registered with the practice.’
COVID booster jabs
The document says planning for influenza vaccination should ‘continue as usual for this autumn’, but warns the ES could be updated should co-administration of the COVID and flu vaccine be recommended by the JCVI.
GPs had previously warned that uncertainty over how the flu campaign would work alongside COVID-19 vaccination - including whether the jabs can be administered at the same time - had left them with a planning nightmare.
GPonline understands that most practices decided to sign up to deliver COVID booster jabs, despite the fact that practices will have to deliver these jabs at PCN-level. LMCs have warned that some practices could U-turn on this decision should the terms of the flu ES make work to deliver the two campaigns complicated.