Flu vaccine suppliers have told pharmacies that some deliveries of the standard quadrivalent flu vaccine will be delayed until November 2019.
A letter from Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement was sent to community pharmacists on 17 July 2019 warning that drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur will be “phasing” deliveries of the inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIVe), with some vaccines being delivered “by the end of November” 2019.
Flu vaccinations are usually available in community pharmacies from the beginning of September.
The letter says the late vaccine supplies of the standard egg-grown vaccine, which is suitable for adults at risk of flu who are aged under 65 years, have been caused by a delayed decision from the World Health Organization on which viruses should be included in the vaccines.
The letter encourages pharmacies and GP practices to contact manufacturers and confirm delivery dates of the vaccinations.
Rekha Shah, who leads on pharmacy NHS vaccination services for London local pharmaceutical committees, said it was unclear whether production of the new cell-based quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc), which is also suitable for adults aged under 65 years, would be disrupted too. She advised pharmacies to plan to provide information to patients aged under 65 years and schedule their vaccinations for later in the flu season.
However, Shah added: “We have understood that all vaccines will still be received before the end of November , and this is before flu normally starts circulating.”
Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison and Sons pharmacy in Cockermouth, Cumbria, which regularly provides more than 1,000 flu vaccinations each season, said some suppliers had told him there would definitely be delays of the QIVe vaccine “until at least the end of October” 2019.
Mitchell has also ordered supplies of the QIVc vaccine, manufactured by Seqirus, which can be used in adult patients, and he said he was not aware of any disruption to this supply.