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Sanofi flu vaccine deliveries phased over longer period for 2019-20

Some influenza vaccines won't be available until two months after the start of flu season
Some influenza vaccines won't be available until two months after the start of flu season

Deliveries of Sanofi Pasteur’s quadrivalent flu vaccines will be phased over a longer period for the 2019-20 flu season, with the final batch delivered by the end of November.

In a letter from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England on Wednesday (July 17), the commissioners advise that manufacturers’ vaccine supplies have been impacted by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) delayed recommendation on which strain of influenza should be included in the vaccines for the 2019-20 flu season.

As a result, Sanofi Pasteur will phase some deliveries of its quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV), with some batches being delivered by the end of November – two months after pharmacies usually start administering flu jabs.

Three delivery periods

Sanofi Pasteur told C+D this afternoon (July 19) that for the 2019-20 season, its quadrivalent vaccines would be delivered in “three delivery splits, which is in line with previous flu seasons”.

However, due to the WHO delay and “increase in demand” for its flu vaccine, “these deliveries will be phased over a slightly longer period of time”.

It plans to complete all deliveries by the “usual peak of flu epidemics”, Sanofi added.

“We have informed all customers who have ordered our quadrivalent vaccine directly from us, along with all large pharmacy chains,” the manufacturer said.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) advised contractors who have placed an order for QIV vaccines “to contact the relevant manufacturer or supplier to confirm delivery dates in order to plan effectively for the season”.

Impact on pharmacies

PSNC director of services Alastair Buxton told C+D the flu season is expected to start as usual at the start of September.

“If individual pharmacies are affected by phased delivery of their vaccine orders, this will inevitably impact on how they are able to run their flu vaccination service,” he said.

He pointed to the phased deliveries of the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) – which was the only vaccine pharmacists were allowed to administer to over-65s last flu season.

“However, there are multiple manufacturers of quadrivalent vaccines from whom contractors may have ordered supplies, so the impact of phased delivery of these vaccines on contractors is less easy to predict,” Mr Buxton added.

Recommended vaccines

Community pharmacies are able to order three different vaccines for the 2019-20 season: The standard egg cultured quadrivalent inactivated vaccine (QIVe) for 18 to 64-year olds; the cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc) for nine-year-olds and upwards; and the aTIV vaccine, Fluad.

The fourth option, the high-dose trivalent vaccine (TIV-HD), “is not eligible for reimbursement under the NHS flu vaccination programme because it has a significantly higher list price”, NHS England stressed earlier this year.

Community pharmacies in England delivered more than 1.4 million vaccinations for the 2018-19 national flu service, according to NHS Business Services Authority data published last month, despite the season being marred by delays of Fluad.

Are you concerned about vaccine delays?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Two months after the service has begun is ultimately pointless. The key time to get vaccines administered is as soon as possible, and from experience we receive so many people who get the influenza during September and October, and's already too late to prevent it.

Honestly, I expect better.

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

And here we go again!  Even with "multiple manufacturers" this is going to cause problems.

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