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Patients ‘lost confidence’ in pharmacies hit by flu jab delays

Rekha Shah: Less than 5% of London pharmacies received their flu jab orders on time
Rekha Shah: Less than 5% of London pharmacies received their flu jab orders on time

Patients “lost confidence” in pharmacies that received flu vaccinations three weeks later than GPs, the vaccination lead for London's pharmacies has claimed.

Hundreds of pharmacies across London received their Fluad adjuvanted trivalent vaccinations three weeks after GP surgeries in the same areas received theirs, according to Rekha Shah, pharmacy vaccination services lead for the city's local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs).

GP practices received their Fluad deliveries in the “first or second week of September” from Seqirus, the sole manufacturer of the only vaccine pharmacies are allowed to give patients aged over 65 this season. But the majority of pharmacies in London received their orders around September 24, Ms Shah told C+D exclusively last month (September 21).

Pharmacies lose “credibility” and patients' “confidence” if they have to turn away individuals requesting flu jabs, Ms Shah added.

She estimated that “less than 5%” of pharmacies in London received their Fluad vaccines on time. Those that did not receive their orders were “horrified” to hear GP practices “had got them really early”, she claimed.

Seqirus: “As equitable as possible”

Seqirus told C+D that it is “taking as equitable an approach as possible to deliveries, given the logistics involved”.

The manufacturer received orders from 295 pharmacies in the London area, and “approximately 200” received their first shipment by September 17, it explained.

“The remaining 95 pharmacies received their first shipment in the week of September 24,” it added (see Seqirus’ full response below).

“Confusion for patients”

Mayank Patel, superintendent pharmacist of London-based group Pearl Chemist, claimed all its 14 branches received their main Fluad orders three weeks later than nearby GP practices.

This caused “confusion for patients”, who “should have a choice where they want to get vaccinated” between GP practices and pharmacies, Mr Patel said last week (October 4).

“I don’t think there’s equity this year. GP surgeries have been treated more favourably.”

“Unexpected and unprecedented” supply

Seqirus told C+D that it now expects to deliver nearly “10 million doses [of Fluad] across the UK”, which is “an unexpected and unprecedented level of supply and an enormous undertaking”.

“We fully appreciate the critical role played by all immunisation providers in delivering the UK influenza vaccination programme each season.

“As at the end of September, we’ve supplied more than four million doses of Fluad to over 8,500 GP practices and pharmacies across the UK as planned, and remain on track to fulfil October and November orders as scheduled,” Seqirus stressed.

Did you receive your flu jab later than a local GP practice?

Industry Pharmacist, Director

lol - the Xmas party in head office will be lacking funds now that there aren't many flu jabs in the bag! Oh wait they'll just cut some hours to make up for it ;P I know I'm immature but if we don't laugh we'll cry!

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

If the public realised how much pressure is put on company pharmacists to do these injections, they'd have even less confidence in pharmacy.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

We all predicted a cock-up when a single supplier was announced. Am I surprised to hear GPs had their supplies ahead of pharmacies? Not very

A B, Community pharmacist

"Unexpected and unprecedented supply"

Are Sequirus saying they are surprised at the number of orders even though they are the only supplier? Surely it can't be hard to work out how many doses they needed to supply.

We decided not to do the flu jab this year. We couldn't risk being left with unused vaccines due to the potential variance in delivery times between Drs and other pharmacies (our "competition" for want of a better phrase). Listening the rubbish this company is coming out with I think we made the right call.

Seqirus UK, Director

Seqirus planned to manufacture 9 million doses, based on uptake in previous seasons. We’ve had demand for almost 10 million doses, which was unexpected.

A B, Community pharmacist

Unexpected demand? Most would have placed their order nearly 6 months ago, isn't that enough warning? 

There are almost 12 million over 65s in the UK, don't you use that as a potential demand figure rather than uptake figures? 

Please educate me if I'm mistaken.

Seqirus UK, Director

The influenza vaccine uptake rate in the 65+ population last season was 72.6% (see link below).  The preferential recommendation for aTIV was issued on 5 February.  The majority of orders came in towards the end of March/first part of April (and have continued).




A B, Community pharmacist

So majority of orders were around 6 months ago like I stated. Your figure of 9 million doses would be based on 2 assumptions from what I can gather: around 76% take up in the over 65 group in the UK and doctors/pharmacies/clinics etc. not ordering any contingency. I would have thought at least 10% contingency would be expected (I always ordered 10% more than I expected to use and the surgery I work for does too) to cover higher demand, unused doses, damages, fridge failures etc. It seems that you've underestimated demand by poor planning and the government were too slow with their advice.

I can see you are unwilling to take any sort of criticism so I won't labour the point any longer. 

Seqirus UK, Director

We can agree to disagree on the maths and other assumptions. Overall, it will be a great public health outcome if the UK achieves a higher rate of vaccination in the 65+.

Dave Downham, Manager

It would be a great outcome...shame that you are not producing the goods to let us achieve thar outcome.

mita jhala, Community pharmacist

Have'nt received a single delivery of Fluad yet.

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Shock News. Maybe they sent supplies to French pharmacies as they are so patient focused? No hang on they don't do flu jabs through community pharmacy in France.

Kieran Eason, Superintendent Pharmacist

In the interest of balance- I got mine several weeks before my local surgery. 

A Hussain, Senior Management

Don't think the link to their reply works

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