A flu vaccine used in the US since 2016 has been authorised for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced today (22 October) that millions of doses of Flublok will soon be available to support this year’s flu programme.
DHSC said the vaccine had been authorised for temporary supply after it met the MHRA’s standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Dr Christian Schneider, the MHRA’s interim chief scientific officer, said: ‘The MHRA assessed Flublok against safety, quality and effectiveness standards and sought advice from the Government’s independent expert scientific advisory body – the Commission on Human Medicines. We are satisfied that this vaccine protects against flu and meets high standards of safety and quality.’
This comes as pharmacies across England have reported shortages of flu vaccines amid unprecedented demand for vaccinations this year.
A spokesperson for DHSC confirmed that the doses of Flublok form part of the Government’s centrally-procured stock and said that advice for pharmacists on how to access this supply will be published ‘in due course’.
PSNC has previously said it is pressing the Government to give pharmacists priority.
Flublok, which is only appropriate for people aged 18 and over, has been used in the US for the last three winters and is licensed by the USA Food and Drug Administration, DHSC said.
Professor Jonathan Van Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said: ‘As we approach the winter and cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, it is crucial we double down on efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible from the flu. We have increased the number of people eligible for free flu jabs this year to reduce all avoidable risks and protect people from illness.
‘Flublok has been in regular use in the United States – and the evidence shows that it is an excellent product. I want to reassure everyone that all vaccines have undergone robust clinical trials and rigorous checks by the regulator to ensure they are safe, effective and of a high quality.’