Seasonal flu immunisation rates are down on last year despite the government’s new pharmacy vaccination scheme, according to new figures from Public Health England.

Only 22% of people under 65 in a clinical risk group have so far been vaccinated compared to 25% this time last year. Figures for two- and three-year-olds are down from 8% last year to 5%, and only 4% of four-year-olds have been vaccinated, down from 7 percent. Numbers for over-65s are also down slightly, falling from nearly 45% to 43 percent.

In July the NHS announced it would be introducing a scheme allowing community pharmacies to offer flu vaccinations . Previously, the service was only provided by GP surgeries. 

The scheme is designed to help increase the amount of hard-to-reach patients that are immunised, but at the time of the announcement the GCP warned that it might not be effective. GCP chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that NHS bureaucracy is “not flexible enough” to allow accurate records to be shared between pharmacists and GPs speedily, which “can make it more difficult for flu immunisation targets to be met and for GP practices to identify which patients need to be immunised”.