As well as the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) – which is the only vaccine pharmacies are allowed to administer to this age group this flu season – NHS England anticipates* they will be able to deliver two currently unlicensed vaccines: a cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc) and a high-dose trivalent vaccine (TIV-HD).
The latter two vaccines are both expected to be licensed in December, NHS England added.
The announcement follows repeated concerns raised by pharmacies in England about difficulties sourcing a large enough supply of the aTIV vaccine Fluad – which is solely manufactured by Seqirus – to administer to those aged 65 and over. Last month, Kate Adjei, manager at Nories Pharmacy in Horsham, West Sussex, told C+D she had to turn patients away because her pharmacy had used all its Fluad stock.
In its joint letter with the Department of Health and Social Care sent yesterday (November 20), NHS England also explained that next flu season 18-64-year-olds in clinical at-risk groups could be offered either the currently licensed standard egg-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVe), or the cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc), which is expected to be licensed in December.
As for this season, standard trivalent egg-based vaccines (TIVe) will not be considered “preferable”, it stressed.
NHS England’s recommendations follow a review of the latest evidence on influenza vaccines by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, it explained.
*This article has been amended to clarify that NHS England's final decision on which vaccines to recommend will only be made once licences are granted and list prices of the new vaccines have been agreed. PSNC has also told C+D: Contractors should wait for confirmation from NHS England that they are eligible for reimbursement before ordering.