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.
“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.
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.