I read an article in Pulse today which made my blood run cold.
It appears that the rumours circulating about the extension of the flu vaccination programme might be more than just stories, with some PM colleagues reporting that their CCGs have asked them whether they can vaccinate all the over 50s.
If I ruled the world, or even just the NHS, it’s certainly something I’d think about doing. After all, we’re heading for a likely second wave, and with fatigued staff, low supplies and a no-deal Brexit looming, this winter could prove very challenging indeed. The death toll from COVID-19 has been unbearable, and anything we can do to mitigate this in the future would be a positive step.
If we vaccinate all the over 50s, then we can hopefully reduce the number of hospital admissions for flu symptoms. That should mean we have some available capacity to treat those with COVID-19.
The only slight issue with this plan is, I’ve already submitted my flu vaccine orders. I placed them based on the guidance at the time, and as the suppliers generally don’t have a massive stash of flu vaccine left at the end of the season, I can only hope they’ve been tipped the wink in time. I’m hesitant to try and order any additional stocks without further official guidance, but by the time the official guidance arrives, I may be too late – if I’m not already. Even with my usual sale or return, I spend a lot of time worrying about what the uptake will be each year, and the sale or return figures won’t be enough to cover all those additional people.
The other confounding variable is that I’m expecting people who are eligible for flu vaccinations but who don’t usually come to appear this year. Some pharmacies won’t be able to socially distance to provide the flu vaccination, so possibly that will free up some additional stock for general practice. Still, I don’t think it will bridge the gap adequately. I may have to replan my flu campaign by writing to those who are most clinically vulnerable first, rather than writing in my usual alphabetically organised way.
So, what do I do? Should I stick with what I’ve ordered in the knowledge that within a few weeks I may well be scrabbling around trying to secure additional stocks, or do I increase my order, if I can, and accept that I may be left carrying the risk if the guidance doesn’t change? I can’t see the partners going for the latter option, so I’ll hang fire and hope that the powers that be have a massive vat of flu vaccine stashed somewhere…