Shortage of enhanced flu vaccine for over 65s in Scotland

People between 65 and 75 will miss out on receiving the adjuvanted trivalent flu jab after NHS Scotland was unable to secure enough of the vaccination for everyone aged over 65 years.

Flu vaccination being administered

The adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccination Fluad will not be offered to people in Scotland aged 65–75 years, after problems with procurement of the drug by NHS Scotland.

Only people in Scotland aged 75 years and over will be offered the enhanced flu vaccine, which will be available for all patients aged over 65 years in England and Wales. People aged under 75 years will be offered the standard trivalent vaccine.

Fluad, manufactured by Seqirus, was recommended for use in patients aged over 65 years at a meeting of the UK government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in October 2017. The committee also said that the adjuvanted vaccine should be prioritised for those aged 75 years and over.

In Scotland, flu vaccinations are procured centrally by NHS National Services Scotland. Joe FitzPatrick, public health minister for Scotland, told the Scottish Parliament on 25 September 2018 that procurement for this winter’s flu season had been completed before the JCVI recommended Fluad for people aged over 65 years. This partly accounted for the shortage, he said.

FitzPatrick told MSPs that Seqirus had had to “significantly ramp up its production for the whole of the UK very quickly”.

“Unfortunately, it was unable to guarantee NHS Scotland sufficient supply of the vaccine for everyone over 65 [years] in time for the start of this year’s vaccination programme,” he said.

FitzPatrick added that “with what was provided, we have ensured that we have a vaccination programme for the whole of Scotland”.

In Scotland, NHS flu vaccinations can only be obtained from GP surgeries. Although pharmacies do stock flu vaccinations, these are only made available on a private basis.

“We would recommend that any concerned member of the public has a conversation with their GP and also with their local pharmacist and decides their best course of action based on the advice they receive,” said a spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Scotland.

This article was amended on 5 September 2018 to clarify Joe FitzPatrick’s comments and make it clear that patients in Scotland between 65 and 75 will receive the trivalent inactivated vaccine.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Shortage of enhanced flu vaccine for over 65s in Scotland;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205535

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