The number of available flu vaccines for this year’s flu season is set to exceed demand, NHS England has said.
In a letter sent to GP practice leads and managers last week (7 November), NHS England said that the supply of the adjuvanted trivalent inactivated flu vaccine (aTIV) – also known as Fluad – for the over-65s will ‘exceed anticipated requirements’.
Last week (6 November), data published by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) showed that community pharmacies alone delivered over 870, 500 flu jabs in just two months.
Supply exceeding demand
NHS England said in the letter: ‘By mid-November, the complete order for 8.3m doses of aTIV will have been delivered to GP practices, pharmacies and other providers in England, so vaccine availability in total exceeds anticipated requirements.’
However, a spokesperson for the vaccine supplier Seqirus confirmed today (14 November) that the total doses for England will reach 8.5 million.
They told The Pharmacist: ‘By the end of this week, we will have completed the third and final phase of the delivery plan agreed with NHS England earlier this year.
‘Our second and third phase deliveries included extra stock that we were able to make available to meet additional unexpected demand.
‘Supply of Fluad across the UK is now expected to total 9.8 million doses, which is well above the uptake seen in the 65+ age group in previous seasons.’
Last year, around 7.4 million people aged 65 and over were vaccinated against the flu, according to NHS England.
‘Necessary’ staged deliveries
In August, NHS England said that pharmacies and GP surgeries would receive three batches of the aTVI over three months – 40% in September, 20% in October and a further 40% in November – due to reported shortages of the vaccine.
NHS England argued that having phased deliveries was ‘necessary to enable the vaccine to be available for this year’s flu season.
Following recommendation by Government body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a new aTVI was introduced for the over-65s for this year’s flu season. The vaccine could result in 2,000 fewer hospitalisations, prevent 700 hospital deaths and reduce GP consultations by 30,000, Public Health England (PHE) said.