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Pharmacies in England can buy extra flu vaccine stock from DH supply

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has detailed how pharmacies in England can access additional stock of influenza vaccines, which it has secured to help top up local supplies. 

Following the success of last year’s seasonal flu immunisation programme, which resulted in record numbers of flu vaccine uptake in the UK, the DH hopes to “achieve even higher vaccine uptake rates compared to last year”, it wrote in guidance for pharmacies published last week (October 8).

To achieve this, it has secured additional supplies of influenza vaccines, “as a temporary measure for this year only”, it said.

The “DH has boosted supply to community pharmacies by working with manufacturers to ensure more stock is available for wholesalers”, it wrote.


Pharmacies: Place orders with wholesalers


Community pharmacies are among the NHS providers eligible to receive the centrally secured stock, when they determine they need additional supplies. As with last year, community pharmacies will be able to purchase stock directly through wholesalers, the DH added.

Pharmacies should also contact their wholesalers for details regarding what stock is available, the DH added. It specified in the guidance that it has ordered additional stocks of QIVc, QIVe and QIVr to boost supply.

Most of the stock will arrive from early November onwards and is intended to complement existing flu vaccine supply.

Providers should work with commissioners to ensure stock is prioritised to where uptake is lower, the DH said.


Assess uptake rates


As stock cannot be returned at the end of the flu season, pharmacies must assess whether they need to buy more flu vaccines by analysing “current uptake in eligible cohorts –taking into account booked clinics – and calculating any additional vaccines required”, according to the guidance.

They should purchase vaccines according to the needs of the local population they serve, the DH added.

It wrote that the process for accessing the supplemental flu vaccine stock “has been purposefully designed to limit the impact on business-as-usual vaccinations and supply chains”.

Community pharmacies in England have already administered almost 1.7 million flu jabs as of October 10, according to provisional data collated by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

Community pharmacies in England administered almost three million influenza vaccines during last year’s flu season, C+D reported in April.

The impact of the flu is predicted to be greater this winter, due to measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

Because of these measures, influenza levels were extremely low globally last year, resulting in a lower level of population immunity this winter, NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote in a letter to contractors this summer.

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