GPs face 800,000 extra flu jabs for morbidly obese patients

GPs could be asked to vaccinate 800,000 more people a year under plans to add morbidly obese patients to the list of at-risk people eligible for the flu jab.

Obesity: GPs could offer flu jabs to obese patients
Obesity: GPs could offer flu jabs to obese patients

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that people with a BMI of 40 or more should be added to the at-risk group for influenza vaccination.

The DH has not yet confirmed whether it will be accepting the recommendation.

A vaccination expert has warned that GPs would need to order in more doses and hold more flu clinics, and that government support would be needed to help doctors cope with the increased workload.

The recommendation comes a week after the DH announced that 3.3m 14- 18-year-olds would be vaccinated against meningococcal W disease.

Extra doses

GPs vaccinated around 10.7m people in 2013/14, so would need to boost vaccine stocks by around 8% if the recommendation was accepted.

Currently, people who are over 65, pregnant, or have certain conditions like asthma, heart disease or diabetes can receive the flu vaccine.

Around 960,000 people are morbidly obese but 15% of them are already eligible for the flu vaccine as they have type 2 diabetes.

Dr George Kassianos, RCGP’s clinical lead on immunisation, said the recommendation is welcome but GPs would need support to cope with the extra demand.

‘The RCGP has already been calling for very obese patients to be added to the influenza immunisation at-risk groups,’ he told GP.

‘This new recommendation is welcome but it is important that the government positively supports GP practices in delivering this new increase in workload.’

‘GPs will need to order extra doses of flu vaccine and also add more open days for flu vaccination, traditionally weekend days in October. Only by mass vaccination can practices cope with further increases in workload as this new recommendation implies.’

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