Dear Victoria 

COVID-19 vaccine uptake in frontline healthcare workers statistics

Thank you for your correspondence (Annex to this letter) requesting to continue releasing the seasonal flu vaccine uptake statistics[1][2][3] at 2pm, rather than at 9:30am. This release time was agreed as an exemption to the Code of Practice for Statistics and formalised in a letter my office published in November 2021. 

As you have noted, following a consultation, we will be amending practice T3.6 of the Code from 5th May 2022, to allow requests for alternative release times of official statistics. To ensure consistency for current users of the seasonal flu vaccine statistics, I am content to convert the existing exemption to an alternative release time, enabling future publications of these statistics to continue at 2pm.  

You have also requested the alternative release time of 2pm for the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine uptake in frontline healthcare workers statistics. Having considered your reasons for this change, I am assured that you have a good understanding of how the statistics are used, and how this will be enhanced through adopting an alternative release time. You have fully considered the compromise between allowing time for quality assurance and making statistics available as early as possible, and you are seeking to ensure that you can release statistics of suitable quality in a coherent and timely way. These measures will support a variety of users and uses and enable media queries to be handled effectively. Finally, you are ensuring users have good notice of the change in release time by seeking approval for a later release time well in advance of the release. 

I am therefore content you have demonstrated the alternative release time will enable these statistics to better serve the public good.  

Yours sincerely  

Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

Annex: correspondence from Victoria Obudulu 

Dear Ed 

Thank you for approving an exemption from the Code of Practice for Statistics’ standard publication time of 9.30am to permit a later release time of 2.00pm for the following statistics: 

In line with your policy for alternative release times for official statistics , I am confirming that we would like to convert these release time exemptions to an alternative release time of 2.00pm. 

In addition, I would like to request an alternative release time of 2.00pm for the ‘COVID-19 vaccine uptake in frontline healthcare workers: monthly data’. These are published between March and August and are currently preannounced for publication at 9.30am. However I believe a change to a 2.00pm release time is necessary for the following reasons: 

  • Coherence and orderly release. Publishing at the same release time as the seasonal statistics above supports coherence, orderly release and minimises confusion for users who are already used to receiving these reports at 2.00pm. 
  • Assured quality and timeliness. These statistics are published monthly, with the data being delivered to the production team during the week preceding publication. Thursday is the earliest that the statistics can be ready but we are unable to commit to publication at 9:30am, because the team need that time for quality assurance on Thursday mornings because of the tight turnaround. The team has considered how to maintain the standard 9.30am release time. However, in practice the earliest possible 9:30 release time would be on Friday but the strong media interest in the figures would present handling challenges for the team, in effect forcing publication back to the following Tuesday at 9:30 to allow for pre-release access on Monday. Furthermore, public health intervention teams will be better served if the data is available to them at the same time as the National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports 

I would be grateful if you could indicate your support for this. 

Yours sincerely 

Victoria Obudulu
Head of Profession for Statistics, UK Health Security Agency