Flu vaccination programmes put massive but predictable strains on practices. However, forward planning can ease this, as Tim Smith's article illustrates (Guidelines in Practice, Vol 4(9): 57).
Ours is a moderately large practice with six GPs and more than 9000 patients, and we are already thinking about ways of improving ext year's flu programme. Around 10% of our patients fall into the target groups, and we aim to vaccinate as many of them as possible. Tim Smith's suggestion of a dedicated telephone line at the peak of the season is an excellent idea, and one we'll be looking into.
Vaccination offers good protection, especially for high-risk patients. The numbers needed to treat (vaccinate) to prevent one death in high-risk patients are around 40 in a high-risk year and 80 in a low-risk year – data that should encourage us to direct significant effort to these patients.
A more strategic approach to next year's flu campaign is a priority for me and I am confident that the modest extra work entailed will result in a more efficient and less stressed team.
Chris Barclay, GP, Sheffield