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NHS England rejects expensive over-65 flu vaccine for 2019-20 season

Two of the vaccines for the 2019-20 season are manufactured by Seqirus – Fluad and Flucelvax Tetra

Pharmacists will be able to administer only two of three available flu vaccines for over-65s next season, as NHS England has deemed the third too costly.

As well as the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) – which is the only vaccine pharmacists are allowed to administer to this age group this flu season – NHS England has today (January 23) said they will be able to deliver the cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc) next season.

In November, NHS England said it was considering a high-dose trivalent vaccine (TIV-HD) as a third option for the 2019-20 season.

However, while this vaccine has now been licensed for use in the UK, at £20 per dose it “has a significantly higher list price than the equally suitable vaccines”, and so will not be commissioned, NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said in a letter to flu service providers.

Pharmacies will not be reimbursed for using the TIV-HD vaccine next year, Mr Powis stressed, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) advised pharmacies not to purchase or administer it.

The announcement of an additional vaccine for those aged 65 and over 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. In October, 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.

As per this season, pharmacies will be able to administer the standard egg-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVe) to patients aged 18-64 years next season.

While the QIVc vaccine – Flucelvax Tetra, also manufactured by Seqirus – has been licensed and is recommended for use in 2019-20, it has not been added to the list of recommended flu vaccinations for the current season, PSNC stressed.

NHS England recommended providers order the aTIV, QIVe and QIVc vaccines ready for the start of the 2019-20 flu season in September.

Read NHS England’s letter and PSNC’s summary.

What do you think about NHS England's announcement?

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

The first paragraph of this report is wrong. NHS England has sanctioned the use of THREE out of FOUR vaccines for next season.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Here is a thought. Could adminstration be done by a Dispenser? Could it be done by a Technician? Why? Why not?

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

With sufficient training I don't see why a dispenser or technician can't do the jabs as long as patients have been assessed appropriately by a clinical person, in this case the pharmacist. I knew a phlembotomist who is a former cleaner for the practice and she is now taking bloods for tests and analysis. A perfect example of it. But because giving jabs is the only thing that makes community pharmaicts more ''clinical'' and give them a bit of more job satisfaction, I am afraid no one will be willing to let this slice of pie go. And when talking about clinical, please don't say mur and nms are because they never are. It's all about the money never about patient care!

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

While in the meantime GP can just order one vaccine for everyone over the age of 9. So what's the point having a fuss about giving different jab to different age groups then?

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Exactly. What’s the point in ordering separate ones if we can just use the QIVc! 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

QIVc is more expensive compared to ATIv (fluad) for over 65s and QIVe for 18-65 yrs. It is more of a business decision of getting more for the same effect. For information, Seqirus is at it again. The delivery schedule is based on what you order. If you order both QIVc & Fluad together then you will get the priority delivery (week commencing 16th September) But, if order only Fluad or the QIVc then it is delivered in October. I really do not understand why the NHSE never tightens the screws on these companies.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This should make life a little easier. Hopefully no repeat of this years farrago

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