In a vaccine update posted earlier this month (May 6), Public Health England (PHE) said that from June 1 it will be supplying the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23, Pneumovax 23) “for the routine immunisation programme and immunisation of those with underlying medical conditions”.
“This replaces local PPV23 procurement through wholesalers,” it added.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, told C+D last week (May 18): “Moving to central procurement of PPV23 will help improve management of supply for NHS providers.”
In October, Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), manufacturer of the Pneumovax 23 pre-filled syringes, said it had experienced an “unexpected surge in demand” during the COVID-19 pandemic and there would be a shortage of the product until January this year.
Wales and Scotland move to central supply
Public Health Wales confirmed to C+D it too will move to a central procurement system for the national immunisation programme from June 1, as will Scotland.
In a letter from the Scottish Government dated May 13, it explains that: “The PPV23 vaccine has been subject to intermittent supply issues over the past two to three years due, in part, to manufacturing issues, and increasing global demand.
As a result, “from June 1, the PPV23 vaccine should be ordered through NHS vaccine holding centres and not from community pharmacy contractors”, the government said.
NI: Pharmacies wind down stock by June 14
PHE – rather than community pharmacies – will also be responsible for supplying the PPV23 vaccine for Northern Ireland’s national immunisation programme, according to a circular from the country’s Department of Health, but not until June 14.
From this date “GPs should stop using stock scripts to order the PPV23 vaccine and order through the NI Vaccine ordering system”, the DH said.
“Prior to June 14, GPs should work with local community pharmacies to place stock orders for any remaining stock of PPV23 held within community pharmacies. Trust hospital pharmacies should continue to place orders via their pharmacy computer systems,” it advised.
AAH: Still supplying beyond June 1
A spokesperson for AAH – the sole supplier of Pneumovax 23 – told C+D on Monday (May 24): “AAH will continue to take customer orders for the Pneumovax 23 vaccine for supply outside of the national immunisation programme after June 1.
“We will be working closely with the manufacturer MSD to understand the change to wholesale demand and supply, to manage product availability accordingly,” they added.