Free flu vaccinations for primary eyecare

Funding for flu vaccinations announced

NHS England and NHS Improvement have made new funding available for flu vaccinations for patient-facing optometrists, dispensing opticians and frontline optical practice staff. 

The funding covers the flu season between 1 September 2021 to 31 March 2022.

The AOP, among other sector bodies, have been calling for the programme to be extended to primary eyecare.

On the announcement, AOP Clinical and Professional Director, Dr Peter Hampson said: “We welcome this change which sees those working in optics eligible for a free flu vaccine for the first time.

“The AOP, alongside others, recently set out the challenges facing primary care optometrists and dispensing opticians in acquiring a flu vaccine in a letter to NHS England and NHS Improvement.

“It is unfair that in the past, the burden to fund flu vaccinations has fallen on practices and individual clinicians when this has been freely available for other primary care workers. Especially as the optical sector, like others in the primary care family, looks after a large proportion of the older population who are at most risk of developing complications from seasonal flu.”

Dr Hampson added: “The NHS is facing huge pressures this winter season, so it’s essential that take-up of the flu vaccination is high and that we remove any potential access barriers to ensure the ongoing delivering of optical services. It is even more important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read more information on the national influenza programme 2021/22.