The real cost of a seasonal flu vaccine – with residents of coastal towns facing longest delays | UK News

Residents of coastal areas, including Devon, Northumberland and Cornwall, could expect up to 33% more for their flu shots this year than those living in larger cities, according to new data.

The delays could see many forced to spend up to £16.99 to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, costing both the NHS and the public.

As many as 30 million Britons, or just under half the population, could get the vaccine this year, after the government’s new marketing campaign urging the public to get the shot.

This year, the vaccine clinics have been expanded to people ages 50 to 65, adding 11 million more adults to the usual demand, along with those considered clinically vulnerable.

But vaccine supply and demand do not match evenly across the UK, leaving vulnerable people at risk of delays.

The surge in demand is also putting pressure on both the NHS and people’s budgets: vaccinations for a family of four can cost up to £67.96 if done privately.

Those who choose to be poked out of the health service still put pressure on an already overstretched NHS.

While the flu shot costs the consumer up to £16.99, with some price variation between pharmacies, the NHS then pays £9.58 to the company that administered it, funded by the NHS vaccination budget.

Increase in demand ‘difficult to manage’

7bridges, which used AI simulation and data mapping to analyze the need versus ability of doctors’ surgeries to administer vaccines, found that residents in coastal areas such as Devon, Northumberland and Cornwall can have waits up to a third longer than people who live in cities. like London and Manchester.

According to the 2021 census, the Southwest has the highest proportion of people over the age of 65. The data indicates that this area is likely to have the largest number of overburdened clinics, with capacity to administer the vaccine far below expected demand.

The Northwest has the most variation when it comes to immunization requirements. Here the percentage of registered patients eligible for an NHS injection varies from 17% in some surgeries to 40% in others.

Matei Beremski, CTO and founder of 7bridges, said: “The pandemic has given us all a better understanding of the importance and necessity of vaccines to keep the population healthy.

“With the annual plan for flu shots expanding to people ages 50 to 65, an estimated group of nearly 11 million, surges in demand were likely to make already complex pharmaceutical supply chains even more difficult.” to manage.

“But while all the data used by 7bridges to map supply versus demand is publicly available, it is not currently used to optimize the flu vaccine supply chain and minimize delays.

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“A successful implementation in this case would be parity between the times that different regions expect their flu shots, but by using our AI to map supply and demand, we found that this is simply not the case.

“Our data provides a snapshot of the reality that away from cities, where the average age of residents is typically lower, many northern and coastal regions will feel the impact of supply chain bottlenecks.”

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