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NHS vaccination strategy delegates delivery to ICBs


NHS vaccination strategy delegates delivery to ICBs

Responsibility for commissioning vaccination delivery networks is to be delegated to independent care boards as part of NHS England’s vaccination strategy published on December 13.

Such networks will deliver life-course and seasonal vaccinations, as well as outbreak response and catch-up campaigns. The strategy proposes that networks have several linked components:

  • A ‘standard’ core vaccination offer that will reach most of the population efficiently and is…
  • Tailored to local communities to widen the places in which vaccination is available 
  • Supplemented by bespoke, targeted outreach interventions for specific populations currently underserved by vaccination services.

Adult seasonal vaccinations will be delivered at a range of locations depending on local circumstances, but likely to include general practice and/or community pharmacy. It is expected in future that ICS can enable community pharmacy to play a greater role in seasonal vaccination delivery where appropriate

Vaccination strategy priority areas

The strategy outlines three priority areas, including:

  • Improving access including an expansion of online services: More people will be able to book their vaccines online quickly and easily, including via the NHS App, the strategy proposes. Families will be able to view their full vaccination record with clear information and guidance on what vaccinations they should have
  • Vaccination delivery should be in convenient local places, with targeted outreach to support uptake in underserved populations: It should be easy for people to take up the vaccination offer, with sites at GP practices and pharmacies as well as shopping centres, supermarkets and community centres. 
  • A more joined-up prevention and vaccination offer: Vaccination services and activities should be holistic, offering multiple vaccinations for the whole family where appropriate, including covid and flu alongside, for example, opportunistic MMR and HPV catch up.

NHS England says it intends to fully implement the proposals in the vaccination strategy by 2025/26.

England has historically performed well across both life-course and seasonal vaccinations. However, in recent years, performance has been in decline. Population coverage targets for childhood immunisations have not been hit, and there is significant variation in coverage - MMR vaccination rates across local authority areas in England vary by as much as 22 per cent.

Community Pharmacy England view

Commenting on the vaccination strategy, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at Community Pharmacy England, said: “The plans are as we would expect from broader health policy developments, particularly the delegation of commissioning responsibility to ICBs.

“The increase in information available to individuals about their vaccination record and any gaps, aligned with an ability to book appointments via the NHS app, is a welcome development.

“The strategy notes some commissioning of programmes could continue to be facilitated nationally and we believe that should continue to be the case for the Covid-19 and flu vaccination programmes.

“It also says the NHS and government will undertake a cost-benefit analysis to examine the case for central procurement of flu vaccine. The current system where pharmacy owners purchase the vaccine ahead of the season has pros and cons, but the financial risk firmly sits with pharmacy owners.

“During the last two years, the size of that risk has increased with the short notice changes to the flu programme.

“Overall, the strategy provides new opportunities for community pharmacy to be able to seek to expand its role in a wider range of vaccination programmes and we will be working with LPCs to ensure those opportunities can be seized at a local level.”

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