Flu Vaccination Service


Community pharmacy has been providing flu vaccinations under a nationally commissioned service since September 2015.

Each year from September through to March the NHS runs a seasonal flu vaccination campaign aiming to vaccinate all patients who are at risk of developing more serious complications from the virus. The accessibility of pharmacies, their extended opening hours and the option to walk in without an appointment have proved popular with patients seeking vaccinations.

The Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service (Flu Vaccination Service) supports NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) in providing an effective vaccination programme and it aims:

  1. to sustain and maximise uptake of flu vaccine in at risk groups by continuing to build the capacity of community pharmacies as an alternative to general practice; and
  2. to provide more opportunities and improve convenience for eligible patients to access flu vaccinations.

NHSE&I guidance on flu vaccines for 2021/22

On 4th February 2021, NHSE&I issued a letter providing information on the flu vaccines which will be reimbursable under the 2021/22  Flu Vaccination Service.

It is important that all pharmacy contractors that provide the flu vaccination service review the contents of the letter and use the information contained within to inform their ordering of flu vaccine for the season ahead.

Read the NHSE&I letter on flu vaccines for the 2021/22 season

It should be noted that the reimbursable vaccines listed in the letter are not the full range of vaccines that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended for use in 2021/22.

The following JCVI-recommended vaccines will be reimbursed as part of the NHS Annual Influenza Vaccination Programme for adults in 2021/22:

Those aged 65 years and over:

  • aQIV
  • QIVc (where aQIV is not available)

At-risk adults, including pregnant women, aged 18 to less than 65 years:

  • QIVc
  • QIVe (where QIVc is not available)

The letter notes the JCVI considered the use of QIV-HD in those aged 65, however, because of a significantly higher list price, QIV-HD is not eligible for reimbursement under the NHS Annual Influenza Vaccination programme for 2021/22.

JCVI also considered the use of QIVr in both those aged over 65 and those aged 18 to 64. However, QIVr is not eligible for reimbursement under the NHS Annual Influenza Vaccination programme for 2021/22 at this stage. The letter says further guidance may be issued on this vaccine.

The letter goes on to say community pharmacies should plan their ordering on the basis of meeting at least the numbers of vaccinations they achieved during the 2020/21 season.

Contractors will recognise that the 2020/21 season included additional eligible cohorts, particularly the 50-64 year old group, compared to previous years, but the letter makes no specific reference to the inclusion of this group in the 2021/22 season. The letter does however say:

As with 2020/21, there may be policy developments to extend the eligible cohorts during 2021/22. These developments will be informed by the levels and impact of COVID-19 infection to the population. In this situation, should additional cohorts be introduced, further advice will be communicated as soon as possible.

This consequently provides a lack of clarity on the eligible cohorts and PSNC has raised this issue with NHSE&I and the need for greater clarity to help contractors properly judge the appropriate vaccine numbers to order to meet demand, but also to reduce the risk of wastage.

50-64 year old flu vaccinations commenced on 1st December

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on 20th November 2020 that community pharmacy contractors and general practices would be able to vaccinate 50* to 64 year olds against flu from Tuesday 1st December 2020.

Pharmacy Influenza Vaccination PGD V07.00: Extension of eligible cohorts – 30 November 2020

PHE information for patients on the extended programme

* That includes people who turn 50 by 31st March 2021.

Community pharmacy access to the Government flu vaccine stock

For the 2020/21 flu season, DHSC secured an additional supply of flu vaccines from four manufacturers. Initially, restrictions were placed on the use of this vaccine stock, but DHSC confirmed that from 15th January 2021, community pharmacies could offer a flu vaccination using DHSC centrally procured vaccine to private patients or those within occupational health schemes (Group C patients in the DHSC guidance on use of centrally procured vaccines). This decision follows PSNC’s request to DHSC for such a change in the guidance.

Read more about how you can access the DHSC flu vaccine stock

Click on a link below for more information.

Service specification for the flu vaccination Advanced Service 2020/21
The service specification describes the requirements for provision of the service and it is essential reading for all pharmacists providing the service.

National Patient Group Direction 2020/21 
The national Patient Group Direction (PGD) provides the legal mechanism for administration of flu vaccine under the service; it should not be used for any other purpose. Enquiries regarding the use of this PGD should be directed to ENGLAND.communitypharmacy@nhs.net

Amendments to the Pharmaceutical Services (Advanced and Enhanced Services) (England) Directions 2013
The Secretary of State Directions provide the legal basis for the provision of the service.

PSNC Briefing: Guidance on the 2020/21 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service
This PSNC Briefing provides guidance for community pharmacy contractors and their teams on the 2020/21 NHS Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service in England.

PSNC’s Digital Guide to the 2020/21 Flu Vaccination Service

For more information on the following please visit PSNC:

  • Additional resources for pharmacy teams
  • Guidance on use of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Training requirements and resources
  • Record keeping and data requirements
  • Communicating with GP practices
  • Vaccinating outside the consultation room & off-site
  • Promoting the service to patients
  • Funding, claiming payment and post-payment verification
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Information and resources for LPCs
  • Flu Vaccination Service statistics

Local training provided by the LPC:

Expressions of interest were sought in April 2019 and those who expressed an interest were invited to attend a training event on Thursday 4th July 2019 at The Village Hotel Hull.