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US flu jab given ‘temporary’ MHRA authorisation for UK use

More than two million units of a US-licensed flu jab have been procured by the government for the 2020/21 flu vaccine programme and temporarily authorised for the UK by the MHRA.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Department of Health and Social Care (DH) have given the Flublok vaccine authorisation for temporary supply in order to “meet public health need”, it was announced yesterday (October 22).

A DH spokesperson told C+D that the government has procured 2.15 million units of the jab, a supply that forms part of the 30 million flu vaccinations it has ring-fenced as part of its expanded flu vaccine programme for 2020/21.

The DH confirmed to C+D yesterday that Flublok has been procured due to this year’s expansion of the NHS vaccination programme. This has seen more groups eligible for a free jab, including people aged 50-64, patients who are shielding and members of their household, and children in year 7.

Earlier this month, pharmacy teams reported that supplies of flu vaccines were “already running short” due to increased demand.

Flubok is a vaccine for adults over 18, which is made by Sanofi and has been used in the US since 2016.

Flublok “soon be available” to order

Dr Christian Schneider, interim chief scientific officer at MHRA, said the regulator had “assessed Flublok against safety, quality and effectiveness standards” and that it is “satisfied that this vaccine protects against flu and meets high standards of safety and quality”.

Flublok will “soon be available” to order, the DH said, while the MHRA explained that it would be in use in the UK “from December”. However, further information on how to access the vaccine has been provided at present.

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam said it is “crucial we double down on efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible from flu” as winter approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Flublok has been in regular use in the United States – and the evidence shows that it is an excellent product,” he added.

Have you run out of flu jabs this season?

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