The Government’s medicines watchdog has put in place a temporary regulatory change to enable GP practices and pharmacies to swap flu vaccine stocks.

This comes as NHS England said practices and pharmacies are expected to swap stocks of the adjuvanted trivalent inactivated flu vaccine (aTIV) amid supply issues.

However, NHS England’s guidance claims there is sufficient availability of the aTIV – recommended for use in over-65s – to meet demand, urging practices and pharmacies to ensure ‘at a local level’ that the ‘stock of vaccine is distributed to meet demand’.

Normally, medication can only be passed between providers where a wholesaler licence exists, although community pharmacies are already able to transfer medicines to other healthcare providers without this licence under specific circumstances.

But the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it would now not prevent supply of the aTIV being re-distributed by practices – if there is short or no supply – as long as:

  • the surgery that is holding the excess stock can give an assurance that the vaccine has been held properly in the correct temperature controlled conditions;
  • confirmed record keeping of temperature monitoring is available;
  • the surgery that requests the aTIV is able to verify the assurances given;
  • the vaccine can be transported appropriately under the right conditions.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister publication Pulse