Can pharmacies amend their flu vaccine orders after scrapping of free jabs for under-65s?
C+D asked suppliers and wholesalers whether contractors can tweak their flu vaccine orders, after NHS England and NHS Improvement’s (NHSE&I) decision to scrap free flu jabs for 50-64-year-olds came under fire.
Patients aged 50-64 and primary care staff in England will no longer be eligible for a free flu jab in the 2022/23 season, NHSE&I announced last week (March 2).
The decision – which came after many contractors had already submitted their flu jab orders for the upcoming season – left some anxious they would face heavy losses if the vaccines they ordered were left unused.
C+D spoke with wholesalers and vaccine suppliers about whether community pharmacies in England can amend their orders in light of NHSE&I’s decision.
Sanofi: Contractors have until April 12 to tweak orders
Contractors who have already placed a Supemtek or QIVe order for the 2022/23 flu season through Sanofi will be able to “reduce or cancel their order” until April 12, a spokesperson for the manufacturer told C+D.
However, “as a pharmaceutical company, Sanofi does not have any visibility of wholesaler decisions with their individual pharmacy customers”, the spokesperson added.
Viatris: Contact customer care “at earliest convenience”
Contractors in England wishing to amend their Viatris flu vaccine orders can call the Influvac customer care team free of charge on 0800 358 7468, the pharmaceutical company said.
They should do so “at their earliest convenience to discuss any changes they may want to make”, Viatris told C+D.
“Viatris always aims to work with customers to meet their flu vaccine requirements,” it said.
Seqirus: No specific deadline for order amendments
Contractors who had already ordered Seqirus vaccines for patients aged 50-64 prior to NHSE&I’s announcement will be able “process any amendments before our deadline for order submissions”, the manufacturer told C+D.
Although the manufacturer’s deadline “usually takes place in late April”, a specific cut-off date for 2022 “has not yet been set”, a spokesperson clarified.
“Seqirus work[s] closely with customers to ensure sufficient stocks of influenza vaccines are available for both the public and private programs”, the spokesperson continued.
The vaccine manufacturer knows from experience that “each [flu] season is different”, they said.
Alliance: Flu jab pre-orders not yet open
Alliance Healthcare has “no requirement for order amendment” as a result of NHSE&I’s announcement, as its “pre-order sale for flu vaccination season 2022/23 opens by the end of March”, a spokesperson told C+D.
C+D has contacted other wholesalers, including AAH and Phoenix, for comment on their policies regarding flu vaccine orders.
Last year’s flu season saw demand soar, with Boots revealing in November that it was running out of flu vaccine stock for the over-65s, having “already administered almost double the number of flu vaccines than we did by the same time last year”.
In October, C+D reported that pharmacies in England had already smashed the 2020/21 flu vaccination record in under two months.
The second-most vaccinated cohort at this point was those aged 50-64, making up 41.8% of jabs.