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Pharmacy minister says there is "no shortage" of flu vaccine

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine has claimed there is no flu vaccine shortage despite reports that pharmacists are having to turn older patients away because they do not have supplies of the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV).

Responding to a written parliamentary question from Maria Eagle, Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, who asked for information from the Department of Health and Social Care regarding the supply of flu vaccines, Brine said there was “no shortage overall”.

The Pharmaceutical Journal reported on 16 October 2018 that pharmacists have been unable to vaccinate older patients because stocks of the aTIV have run out, with one pharmacist saying they were turning away 20 patients a day.

Use of the aTIV was recommended for patients aged over 65 years by the UK government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in October 2017. Other adults will continue to receive the quadrivalent vaccine.

Following discussions with NHS England, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the British Medical Association, Seqirus — which manufactures the Fluad aTIV — has agreed to phase its delivery of the vaccine, with 40% delivered in September, 20% in October, and 40% in December 2018.

In his response, Brine said NHS England wrote to community pharmacists and GPs in February 2018 to recommend they order aTIV for use in patients aged over 65 years this winter.

He said NHS England also issued guidance in August 2018 for community pharmacies and GP surgeries to plan their flu clinics.

He added: “Patients are advised to wait for the most appropriate vaccine.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205610

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