Annual flu letter for 2024/25 published

The Department of Health and Social Care, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and NHS England have jointly published the national flu vaccination programme letter today (12th March 2024) for the 2024/25 season.

Timing

Based on evidence that flu vaccine’s effectiveness can wane over time in adults, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised moving the start of the programme for most adults to the beginning of October. This is on the understanding, that the majority of the vaccinations will be completed by the end of November, closer to the time that the flu season commonly starts.

As a result, from 1st September 2024, pharmacies will only be able to vaccinate pregnant women, as they are the exception to the advice. From October 2024, vaccination of the other adult cohorts will commence, with the exact starting date to be confirmed by NHS England in due course.

Eligible cohorts

There are no changes to the eligible cohorts for the 2024/25 season.

Reimbursed vaccines

The letter advises that there are no changes recommended by JCVI for adult flu vaccines for 2024/2025. As per the 2023/24 season, second line vaccines should only be considered when every attempt to use first line recommended vaccines has been exhausted – evidence of this may be requested by the commissioner before reimbursement is agreed. The letter further advises, that the purchase of alternative second line vaccines should only occur, if all attempts to secure the recommended first line vaccines have failed.

Pharmacy owners who will have a supply of the recombinant quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIVr), are being advised that preliminary UKHSA evidence in the UK from the 2022/23 season and international evidence suggests that the potential additional benefit may be greatest in adults aged 65 years and older and therefore, to prioritise the use of any QIVr for use in the 65 years and over age group.

Commenting on the publication of the letter, Rosie Taylor, Head of Service Development, Community Pharmacy England said:

“While later than planned, the publication of the annual flu letter is welcomed to allow pharmacy owners to finalise their vaccine orders for the 2024/25 flu vaccination season.

“We would encourage pharmacy owners, to read the letter and make sure they consider the changes to the timing of the service and the reinforced advice regarding the use of second line vaccines as part of their forward planning and vaccine procurement.”

Read the annual flu vaccination programme letter for the 2024/25 season

 

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