Flu vaccines 2019/2020
Pharmacy insights

Flu jabs 2019/2020 delays in supply

In one of my previous posts, I summarised vaccine availability for upcoming flu season 2019/2020. During upcoming season we will see new flu vaccinations, however, we now know that there are already delays in the production of quadrivalent influenza flu vaccine affecting the delivery of service in some eligible patients.

New flu jabs 2019/2020 season 

Two new vaccines will be available during upcoming flu season 2019/2020, but not necessarily offered by pharmacies:

  • New Quadrivalent influenza cell culture vaccine, QIVc (Flucelvax Tetra) based on mammalian cells, licensed for those aged 18-64 and 65 and over. 
  • Higher dose trivalent vaccine (TIV-HD) for those aged 65 and over. This vaccine however will not be reimbursed by NHS, therefore it will not be offered by pharmacies as part of NHS vaccination programme, possibly as part of a private service.

As in previous years, adjuvanted trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (Flaud) is preferable in the individuals aged over 65 due to clinical and cost-effectiveness (NHS England, 2019).

When does 2019/2020 NHS flu vaccination season start?

NHS influenza vaccination season 2019-2020 will run between 1st of September 2019 and 31 of Match 2020

Flu jabs 2019/2020 delays in production

It is unlikely that patients will be vaccinated from 1st of September as we already know that production of some vaccinations is delayed. The expected availability of vaccinations are as follows:

  • Fluad (over 65s): week begging of 9th of September. Flaud vaccine is now available in most pharmacies. 
  • Egg grown quadrivalent vaccine (Sanofi): week beginning 07th of October (for patients aged 64 and below, both private and NHS ‘at risk groups’)

At risk patients (receiving free NHS vaccination) and other patients aged 18-64 may have to wait till October when a quadrivalent vaccine is available. 80% of quadrivalent vaccine is supplied by Sanofi. Some quadrivalent vaccines (the remaining 20%) may be available before October.

This delay is caused by the late selection of the viral component of the flu vaccine by WHO.

There is no information on the availability of cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine (Flucelvax Tetra), which can be used in all patient groups. 

Additionally, as some media reported, there is a possibility that no-deal Brexit may affect the import the vaccinations after October and consequently affect the supply during the flu season.

References:

NHS (2019). The national influenza immunisation programme 2019/20. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/826345/Inactivated_influenza_vaccine_information_for_healthcare_practitioners_2019-20.pdf Accessed on 30/08/2019

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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