Information regarding the vaccines that will be available for the upcoming flu season and the age groups for which each is recommended was confirmed by Public Health England in June. Summaries of Product Characteristics for these vaccines have since been revised to include the WHO recommended strains for the 2021/22 season and the relevant MIMS section has been amended accordingly.
In light of the fact that influenza and COVID-19 are likely to be circulating in tandem this winter, adults aged 50 to 64 years will be again be offered a flu vaccine, as hospitalisation from COVID-19 also increases from the age of 50 onwards.
The programme will also be extended temporarily to include all children in school years 7 to 11.
The programme will therefore cover:
- all children aged 2 to 15 years on 31 August 2021
- those aged 50 years and over
- those in clinical risk groups aged from 6 months to 50 years
- pregnant women
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline health and social care staff
Public Health England has recommended six vaccines, all quadrivalent, and covering five different types:
- LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine) - Fluenz Tetra
- QIVe (standard egg-grown vaccine) - Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine, Sanofi and Influvac sub-unit Tetra
- QIVc (cell-grown vaccine) - Flucelvax Tetra
- QIVr (recombinant vaccine [prepared in cell culture]) - Supemtek
- aQIV (egg-grown vaccine, surface antigen, inactivated, adjuvanted) - Fluad Tetra
Details of which vaccine is recommended in which age group is shown in the MIMS table 'Influenza Vaccines, Which Vaccine to Offer'.
Providers of flu vaccines remain responsible for ordering vaccines directly from manufacturers. Distribution of vaccine supplies usually begins in September but timings are dependent on manufacturing processes and may vary.