News story

Strengthening our defences against seasonal flu

This consultation sought views on the introduction of a central purchase system for the seasonal flu vaccine. The consultation closed on 17 August 2011.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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See current guidance on influenza immunisation in the annual flu programme collection.

Read the seasonal influenza immunisation programme Consultation: a review of the procurement of seasonal vaccine

At the moment GPs order vaccines for seasonal flu directly from manufacturers or their suppliers and are paid for providing the service through their contract. Under the central system being consulted upon, the Department would hold a contract with manufacturers and order vaccine based on GP data of vaccine requirement. GPs would then place orders for the vaccine with the Department.

The aim is to reduce the burden on GPs and save the NHS up to an estimated £40 million a year.

The Government wants to hear views on:

  • whether it will make the system more robust
  • whether it will improve vaccine uptake
  • what the implications for value for money will be

The consultation launch coincided with the seasonal flu plan - winter 2011/12. The plan sets out a co-ordinated and evidence based approach to planning for the next flu season, including:

  • improving vaccine uptake rates from 50 per cent to 75 per cent over the next three years for under 65s in at-risk groups
  • working more closely with GPs and pharmacies to achieve this; and
  • purchasing a central strategic reserve of vaccine to use in the event of vaccine shortages.

You can also view information on seasonal flu on NHS Choices.

Published 26 July 2011