Contractors have raised concerns they will not receive their order of Fluad – which is manufactured by Seqirus and is the only vaccine pharmacies are allowed to offer over-65s this flu season, according to NHS England guidance.
City and Hackney local pharmaceutical committee chief executive Hitesh Patel told C+D there is a "great chance" there will be "quite a few" pharmacies that will not receive the vaccine, as they had missed the cut-off date to order.
"The guidance came from NHS England quite late in February and nobody was sure of what proportions to get in," Mr Patel explained.
For those contractors who have missed out on their orders, "the only way to get them is if wholesalers have any stock", he suggested.
A spokesperson for Seqirus said while Fluad will be held by "some" wholesalers, "this is mostly to manage fulfilment of orders placed by specific national pharmacy chains during the ordering period".
"If any stock is available for general purchase through wholesalers, we expect it will be in very limited quantities," Seqirus explained.
Wholesaler AAH confirmed to C+D it only has sufficient stock of the flu vaccine to fulfil pre-orders, while Alliance Healthcare said it has "planned volume [of Fluad] in line with previous seasons’ flu vaccine demand".
Phoenix told C+D it "has worked closely with Sequris to secure precise dates and volumes to ensure sufficient availability of [Fluad] at the outset of the flu season".
"However, there are concerns that the initial release may not meet demand," it added.
The wholesaler is "at present unable to accept [further] orders" of Fluad ahead of September, “however, all orders placed after the release dates will be prioritised on a first-come-first-served basis”.
“Exceptional global demand this season”
Mike Hewitson, superintendent of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, tweeted that Seqirus had been unable to fulfil his order – which he claimed was placed before the April 12 deadline – as it had been received after this date due to a fax machine error.
Seqirus told C+D it had "made every effort" to secure the vaccine for pharmacies which requested it after the deadline.
However, "due to exceptional global demand for the product this season, we’ve been unable to fulfil additional orders", the manufacturer added.
"We are well progressed in our preparations to supply nine million doses of Fluad this season and are on track to meet [our] phased delivery plans," Seqirus said.