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Supply issues

Pharmacies told to order flu vaccines from more than one supplier to avoid shortages

The Welsh government has advised pharmacies to order flu vaccines from more than one supplier for the 2020/2021 flu season to avoid shortages.

In a letter from Frank Atherton, chief medical officer at NHS Wales, the government sets out the same vaccine recommendations as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation outlined in September 2019.

However, in instructions on ordering the vaccines for next season, it notes that, since the 2018/2019 flu season, “there have been staggered deliveries of certain vaccines due to manufacturing issues”.

“To reduce the risk of vaccine shortages for at-risk individuals, it is recommended that orders for injectable flu vaccine are placed with more than one supplier where possible.”

In July 2019, Sanofi Pasteur told pharmacies that it would be “phasing” deliveries of the inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine, with some vaccines being delivered “by the end of November [2019]”.

This came after Seqirus delivered the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine in stages during the 2018/2019 flu season, which resulted in pharmacists being forced to turn patients away during vaccine shortages.

The letter notes that health boards in Wales should “build on examples of good practice where GP practices and community pharmacy partners have worked together to develop a co-ordinated approach that strengthens local arrangements, removes barriers to vaccine access and improves vaccine uptake in eligible groups”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207416

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