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Flu vaccine orders 're-phased' after pharmacy delivery delay concerns

Manufacturer: UK Fluad packaging will look very similar to US version (pictured)
Manufacturer: UK Fluad packaging will look very similar to US version (pictured)

Deliveries of the only flu vaccine available for over-65s will be “re-phased” to ensure pharmacies receive “at least some” orders early in the 2018-19 season.

NHS England and Public Health England wrote to pharmacists and GPs in February to tell them that the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) is “now the best option for all 65s and over”.

Seqirus, which manufacturers Fluad – the only aTIV vaccine that will be available in the UK – told C+D last month that the increase in orders following NHS England’s announcement meant that any new orders for the vaccine would not be delivered until October.

However, Seqirus has since confirmed that orders for the vaccine “will be re-phased, once they have all been placed, with the aim of giving all customers split deliveries across September, October and November”, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

This is “to ensure all pharmacies and general practices receive at least some of their order of aTIV early in the season”, PSNC said last week (March 29).

Four million doses will be available for delivery in September, followed by two million and three million aTIV vaccines by "mid-October" and "early November" respectively, according to the negotiator.

“Some” October deliveries brought forward

Seqirus told C+D this morning (April 4) that “those who were told they would receive [aTIV vaccines] in October will now receive some in September”.

“The arrangements are a fair and equitable approach to all medical professionals,” the manufacturer said, and “apply to everybody”, regardless of when their order is placed.

“We are confident we’ll meet the commitments set out in [the NHS England letter] and the schedule” for the 2018-19 flu season, Seqirus added.

PSNC said it “supports” the re-phasing approach, “which should ensure that pharmacies, general practices and, most importantly, patients will have equitable access to the vaccine”.

Following a request from PSNC, Seqirus has also “extended the window for ordering aTIV” by two weeks, from March 29 to April 12, the negotiator said.

It advised contractors to review their existing orders for the 2018-19 season, ahead of the new deadline.

Pharmacist predicts flu season “shambles”

Reacting to PSNC’s announcement on Twitter, Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison & Sons Ltd in Cockermouth, Cumbria, said he did not “want [his] orders ‘re-phased’”.

“I was organised and ensured that my patients would get the vaccine they needed ASAP,” he said.

“I can see this season being a shambles, with one supplier of aTIV vaccine.”

When NHS England announced its vaccine guidance in February, City and Hackney local pharmaceutical committee chief executive Hitesh Patel raised concerns that the commissioner was "putting all its eggs" in one basket by relying on one supplier for over-65s.

How are you preparing for the 2018-19 flu season?

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

Sounds like everything else in pharmacy, you can dispense all day long but you don't really need to know how much you are being paid. Now we can order x number of vaccinations but we haven't really been told when the delivery will arrive. Well done NHS England, if only all of us could be as clever you.


Nat Mitchell, Community pharmacist

I hope that they can make this work for everyone, but it’s going to be extremely difficult in my opinion. 

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Hmm, I wonder if this new "fair-shares" approach will materialise? I expect large purchasers will find themselves in a better position come September.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I wonder if I can still get shares in Siqirus?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I predict that GPs will recieve their orders in September, so they can cream off the bulk of the patients, while we in Pharmacy will be fortunate to get ours in late October, or even November, by which time all our regulars will have got fed-up waiting and gone to the GP. GPs get the bulk of the service; Phrmacy flu service gets hamstrung and the only supplier in the market place makes a massive profit! Great work everybody!

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