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Getting hold of flu vaccines by Nicola Davies

by in Flu, Funny, GP Practice Management

At the time of writing this blog, I’m at home – unfortunately I do not have my feet up holding a G&T because (a) it’s 08:30am and that would be ridiculous and (b) this is a vain attempt to get ahead and do some work in the relatively peaceful confines of my office/spare bedroom. I do find that the amount of work I can get through (albeit without access to the clinical system) is huge – relatively very few interruptions and all of those are by email – so I can decide whether to answer quickly or not.

Anyhow, that’s not the point of the blog. I’ve just received a response to my email which went to the help desk at Immform. Can you guess what I’m about to say?

We’re in the middle of this year’s ‘flu campaign and you will undoubtedly be aware that on top of all the usual shenanigans (aka “which flu vaccine am I giving/how old are you?”) there’s an issue with the supply of the kids’ vaccine (that lovely nasal spray that the two and three-year-olds just love shooting up their spout).

As a very small practice, and with a very small number of little ones I actually only need 40 vaccines. I actually only have 43 kids in the two to three year age bracket so trying to get 40 vaccines I thought would be relatively easy. Ha!

Having tried to order vaccines for over a month on the Immform website (and leaving a message for my nurses when I was on leave to remind them to try logging in as well), any attempt at an order was being bounced until the week commencing 7th October. I got back from leave to find that information would be forthcoming w/c 14th October, and then “honestly, by Friday 18th, we’ll absolutely have news for you.” Really?

Friday 18th Oct arrives, and at the crack of sparrow, I log in. ”Nope, you can’t have any information until this afternoon – again….really?! I dutifully wait, by now starting to panic just a little as we’ve already had a few calls and mums obviously getting anxious that their little ones have the vaccine. Actually, truth be told, I think they’re more interested in the party bags that I do for them. Call it a bribe if you want, if it gets them vaccinated I’m more than happy to troll around the Pound Shop and put together a goody bag.

Finally, mid-afternoon I can place an order but can I get all 40 doses? What do you think? No, I can only have 20 as the ‘maximum allowed at this time’.  OK, that’s half of my cohort, that’ll cover me for the first clinic. I’ll order another bundle of doses to be delivered in another three weeks – that should be OK? NOPE. We are only allowed 20 and that’s it. So, confused by this (and it doesn’t take much – memory, brain cells all being destroyed by the menopause) I decided to drop the help desk an email to ask why I couldn’t pre-order for three weeks hence. Reasonably, I would like to offer my parents a choice of two days to attend for a clinic appointment. I know, call me weird!

They decided to reply the following Tuesday – only took them two working days to respond so that wasn’t too bad! Their witty retort is that “all general practice customers have been allocated enough Fluenz Tetra to vaccinate up to 20% of their cohort… allocations will be increased as more stock becomes available. Check the news.” So, to be fair, I’ve received virtually 50% of my cohort so I’m on a winner, but what I find distressing is that the expectation (because of the supply issue) is that we’ll only be able to vaccinate 20% of our eligible population. This doesn’t sit well with me from a public health perspective and whilst I appreciate the supply has to be divided fairly amongst all of us (and it looks like I’ve got more than I ought to have under those rules) at the end of day, we should have enough to attempt to vaccinate ALL of our population.

The issue here is not only that these little ones will be very poorly indeed if they succumb to ‘flu – but what about their potentially very vulnerable grandparents? Possibly the grandparents will have the good sense to consent to the vaccination, but there are some stoics out there who just don’t want it, and we need to respect that, and pick up the mess when they fall ill.

There was some recent press about the possibility of childhood immunisations being mandatory and I doubt we’ll ever get to that point but, if we’re trying to protect the health of the nation, at the very least we need enough vaccine to offer it out.

Needless to say, I have attempted to contact Mr Hancock! He doesn’t respond to ‘tweets’, emails and lately letters have failed to get anything more than a one-liner back from his PA. I should ease up really, I’ve just started another attempt at contact to blow my stack at the ‘Digital Incubator’ programme. It’s only a matter of time before he puts an injunction on me!

Nicola Davies

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Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies

Practice Manager regularly ranting about the NHS. 35 years in Primary Care and still getting irritated by constant change for change sake!

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2 Responses to “Getting hold of flu vaccines by Nicola Davies”
  1. Avatar
    Ceri Chaplin Says:

    I share your frustrations….we’ve got almost 1,000 to vaccinate and haven’t even been able to order 20% this week!

    Oh, and the one thing that you did miss from your blog is that NHS England helpfully wrote to all parents of 2/3 year olds this year to tell them that little Peter/Jayne would be entitled to a flu jab. It’s just a shame that they did it at least 3 weeks before we could order the vaccine. Thanks everso!

    Rant over, happy Friday and good luck everyone.


  2. Avatar
    Laura Says:

    It is very annoying and there is always an issue with flu vaccines every year no matter how in advance you order them. But at least you have only 40 patients being let down! Try telling thousands of our patients who are either blaming Brexit, threatening to sue, or will speak to their MP!


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