Combe Coastal Practice

The Medical Centre, St Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe EX34 8EG

Seasonal Flu Vaccinations

Important Information for Patients regarding Flu Vaccination Programme

Flu Vaccination Programme 2020 overview:

The Flu vaccination programme is delivered across the UK by numerous healthcare providers; this includes GP’s and Pharmacies. It is a voluntary contract which is signed up to every year, there is no responsibility placed on any one organisation for delivery of this to the whole population.

Those eligible for a free Flu Vaccination are identified as over 65 or those being in one of the Chronic Disease Categories. The Government are currently assessing a widening of this group but there has been no directive on this yet.

As part of the Flu Vaccination Programme Primary Care have a requirement to contact all of the eligible groups to make them aware of the need for a Flu vaccination regardless of stock availability.

For Primary Care settings Flu stock ordering is completed in the November/December prior to the Flu season which commences 9 months later, this ordering is based upon the previous year’s uptake and the PHE guidance on clinically validated vaccines. The uptake at Combe Coastal over the last 3 years has been 60-65% of the eligible population; the Practice always orders more than this to ensure that there is a safe movement margin. However in 2019/2020 we destroyed 100’s of Flu vaccinations due to lack of uptake.

In March 2020 we were hit with the global COVID 19 Pandemic, this was 4 months after the Flu stock was ordered. Unfortunately public Government statements and media attention regarding COVID and Flu increased the demand to unprecedented levels which exceeded all pre ordered vaccinations across the healthcare sector. Essentially this has created a vacuum of public concern and expectation that could not be met.

Predicting this potential surge Combe Coastal did attempt several months ago to procure further vaccinations to meet this potential demand, unfortunately all of the excess vaccine stock had already been secured through central Government organisations.

We are now in the difficult position of trying to administer our current Flu Vaccines to those most in need, despite Government announcements regarding widening the vaccine programme we will be allocating our current stock to those patients originally identified in the at risk categories pre COVID. Due to the significant increased demand this however will still not be enough to vaccinate 100% of the eligible population, therefore we have taken the decision to identify those who are unable to get a Flu Vaccine from another source and are most at risk such as housebound patients and patients located in care homes. With the remaining stock we have been required to strictly offer vaccines to those who have called and booked an appointment, unfortunately this means that once those appointments are booked we do not have any further stock in reserve. You will therefore need to seek an alternative vaccine supplier such as the local pharmacy.

For those of us who have chosen to work in the healthcare industry this feels like a very compromising position, this position has not been arrived at due to lack of planning or lack of care for our patients. We are now trying as far as possible to get our patients vaccinated as fairly and safely as we can which will be no comfort to those still currently unable to get a vaccine.

We have attempted to work in partnership with our Pharmacy colleagues but unfortunately these options have quickly been exhausted due to demand.

The surgery does not have large amounts of stock held back just in case, the surgery cannot sell vaccines for those willing to pay for it, the reception team, the same day team, nurses or GP’s cannot authorise a Flu vaccine or respond to complaints regarding the lack of Flu vaccines.

Combe Coastal Practice will continue to deliver the best care possible under these difficult circumstances, we will continue to answer the phones and get you to the right service in a timely manner, the GP’s and nurses will continue to engage with you either over the phone, via video consult or face to face where needed as we have throughout the whole of the COVID pandemic.

Important information about our Influenza Clinics this year:

We will be running the bulk of this year’s flu campaign over 3 Saturdays and we have introduced some significant changes to the way we are running these clinics this year due to the current COVID-19 situation. It is important that you are aware of the new arrangements.

Social distancing must be maintained at all times, to protect patients and clinicians:

  • We will be restricting the number of people in the building at any one time.
  • We will be operating a one way system through the building.
  • Staff members wearing PPE will act as marshals to guide you safely
  • You will be required to queue from the front entrance.
  • Seating will not be available. However, if standing is a problem please alert one of our marshals so that alternative arrangements can be made.
  • Staff marshals will control entry to and exit from the building.
  • Toilets will not be available.
  • You should wear a face covering unless you are unable to do so.
  • You should not arrive early for your appointment.
  • You should arrive alone for your appointment unless you need the assistance of a carer.
  • Please wear outer clothing that is quick and easy to remove.
  • We will have car park attendants on site but there will be limited parking in order to ensure the safety of pedestrians entering and leaving the building. Please help us by parking elsewhere if possible.
  • We are expecting a higher than usual demand for flu vaccinations and appointments are available strictly subject to stock availability.
  • It would be helpful to us if you could let us know if you would prefer not to participate in this year’s flu campaign.