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VIDEO: C+D visits Seqirus’s flu vaccine manufacturing site

Community pharmacists have administered millions of flu jabs over the years. But how many can say they’ve witnessed how they are made? Join C+D’s reporter Eliza Loukou for a video tour of the Seqirus manufacturing site in Liverpool

Influenza vaccine manufacturer Seqirus invited C+D to tour its Liverpool manufacturing site, which specialises in producing jabs for people aged over 65.

The site dates back to 1943, and is the largest of its kind in the UK, Seqirus says.

It has the capacity to manufacture 56 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccines every year, and 200 million in the event of a flu pandemic.

While Seqirus previously had to outsource the fill-and-finish phase of its manufacturing process to other manufacturers, it built its own fill-and-finish site in Liverpool in 2017. This cost £40m and shortened the manufacturing process for each batch by up to two weeks, it says.

C+D was able to hear from Beverly Taylor, head of influenza scientific affairs at Seqirus and Nigel Hilton, vice president of manufacturing and head of the Liverpool site. A tour of Seqirus’s laboratories came next, followed by a walk through the newly completed fill-and-finish site.

 

Watch: C+D’s video tour of the Seqirus site

 

 

 

Patient demand to get flu jabs in pharmacies “has grown”

 

Helen Concilia, who oversees Seqirus’s commercial operations in the UK and Ireland, tells C+D that Seqirus takes influenza vaccine orders from GP practices and pharmacies “12 months in advance”.

“So right now, we’re delivering for [the 2022/2023 season],” she explains. The manufacturer is also establishing “what the demand is going to be like for next year by taking orders now”, which will help Mr Hilton and his team make plans for next season’s numbers, Ms Concilia says.

Demand for flu vaccines has “actually grown year on year”, because “more people are getting vaccinated”, Ms Concilia explains.

Seqirus’s Liverpool manufacturing facility – which specialises in flu jabs for those aged over 65 – has produced “just over 13 million doses” for the 2022/23 season, she adds. An “equivalent number” is being manufactured at Seqirus’s US manufacturing site in Holly Springs, North Carolina, which “is targeted to people under 65” in the UK.

The number of flu vaccines being administered in pharmacies “has grown”, Ms Concilia says. “And I think we anticipate that it will continue to grow”, simply because the public welcomes the accessibility of community pharmacies.

Read more: NHS tests pharmacy flu jab booking portal in effort to ‘increase uptake’

She adds that if the flu season ahead becomes “a difficult season, then we expect a lot of people would be keen to be vaccinated fairly quickly”.

Having access to a number of different spaces to get vaccinated, such as pharmacies, “makes a difference”, Ms Concilia says.

Pharmacies have predicted increased demand for this year’s flu vaccination service, after government guidance issued in July indicated “this year could see higher levels of influenza due to increased social activity, international travel and reduced use of face masks following the pandemic”.

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