The Government has banned the export of the private measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations to prevent a ‘supply issue’, it announced yesterday (5 November).

The vaccination was added to a list of medicines meant for UK patients that wholesalers cannot export and sell on for a higher price in another country, which is known as parallel exporting.

In October, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) introduced the unprecedented ban on parallel exports of certain medicines to ‘tackle ongoing shortages’, because they can cause or aggravate supply problems, it said.

The restriction has been put in place starting from today (6 November) to ‘manage a supply issue of MMR vaccines affecting private patients and those who are not eligible for the national immunisation programme’, the DHSC said.

It added: ‘An increase in global demand risks impacting on patients who are prescribed [the MMR jab] outside the NHS immunisation programme. This amounts to less than 1% of the total number of MMR vaccines in the country.’

There are ‘currently no supply threats’ to the NHS MMR vaccination programme, which ‘continues as normal’, the DHSC stressed.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that hospital admissions for measles have increased by two-thirds in the past year, while mumps cases are at their highest level in a decade.

The news followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for healthcare teams to take ‘urgent action’ to boost uptake of the MMR jab, after the World Health Organization announced that the UK was no longer considered measles free.

In September, The Pharmacist reported that almost 300 community pharmacies had signed up to deliver a private MMR jab service under a free patient group directive (PGD) from the training provider PharmaDoctor before the e-tool went live in September.