GPs and practice staff maintain high flu jab uptake as overall coverage dips

Almost 10% more GPs than other doctors had the seasonal flu vaccine this winter, government figures show, but vaccination of target groups by practices fell.

Data from Public Health England revealed that 58.8% of GPs were vaccinated against flu in the 2015/16 winter season, compared with 49.7% of other doctors.

Despite a dip in flu vaccine uptake from 62.8% during the 2014/15 flu season, the data show most GPs are heeding advice from senior NHS officials who have called for the profession to be vaccinated.

GP practice nurses recorded the highest take up of the vaccine among frontline healthcare workers this winter, at 65.2%, with 52.6 per cent of GP support staff being vaccinated.

However, flu vaccination carried out by GP practices fell among all target groups this winter. GPonline reported in November 2015 on RCGP data showing that jabs given out by GP practices had fallen 6% compared with the previous year.

Flu vaccination

The fall may reflect the controversial decision to allow community pharmacies to deliver flu jabs in addition to GP practices this year, a move GPs say has made it difficult to plan and left some with fridges full of unused vaccines.

Vaccine uptake in patients aged over 65 years fell slightly to 71% this winter, from 72.7% in 2014/15, and vaccinations for patients aged between six months and 65 years in clinical at-risk groups also fell to 45.1% this year, from 50.3% last year.

There was a small fall in vaccination of pregnant women, with a wide variation in uptake, from just 28.1% in Corby CCG to 63.7% in Stockport.

The lowest take-up among general target groups was 30% for four-year-old, while the lowest take-up of any target group was patients aged between six months and two years in a clinical risk group, with just 18.6% of eligible children vaccinated.

This year was the first time that vaccinations given outside a GP practice has been recorded. Pregnant women were most likely to be vaccinated at pharmacies or other healthcare settings at 7.5%. The highest number of pharmacy vaccinations was for people over 65 at just under 280,000.

Photo: iStock

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