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Independents' Day

Flu vaccines for over-65s to be delivered on time, says supplier

The new season of flu vaccines for over-65s are due to be delivered on time despite manufacturing challenges, according to vaccine supplier Seqirus.

The supplier, which manufactures the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) Fluad which is used for over-65s, said GP practices will receive all deliveries of the a-TIV vaccines before a potential no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

It said deliveries are already underway and ‘agreed’ delivery times would be met, despite a delay in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) strain announcement.

It follows reports that some flu vaccines would be delayed until November this year after delays to the WHO recommendation on flu vaccines, after it took more time to adjust to the key strains in circulation.

Supplier Sanofi Pasteur indicated proposals to phase some of the deliveries of the inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccines for at-risk demographics, with some to be delivered by the end of November.

Last year practices were told they would receive their stock of aTIV in a phased manner over three months – with 40% delivered in September, 20% in October and 40% in November.

Due to the delay, a temporary relaxation in regulations was put in place to enable GP practices and pharmacies to swap flu vaccine stocks.

UK country head at Seqirus Helen Concilia said: ‘The swift change over to aTIV for the entire 65 plus population across the UK last season was a complex operation for all of us working on the front line of influenza prevention.

‘However, the hard work from GPs, practice nurses and practice managers was effort well placed as aTIV appears to have significantly reduced the risk of influenza and medical visits in older adults in 2018-19, as highlighted by recent Public Health England data.’

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Helen Concilia does NOT work at the 'front line'. Why are the companies making this public announcement, but at the same time telling Practices they will not get their supplies in time?

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  • Public Health England has published flu vaccine effectiveness data for the 2017 to 2018 season.

    Published 18 July 2018

    Public Health England (PHE) has today (Wednesday, 18 July 2018) published data on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in the 2017 to 2018 season. The data show that overall, flu vaccine was 15% effective in all age groups. However, effectiveness varied considerably. By age-group, the vaccine was overall:

    26.9% effective in children aged 2 to 17 years (who received the nasal spray)
    12.2% in at risk groups aged 18 to 64 years
    10.1% in those aged 65 and over

    There were higher levels of protection against flu B and H1N1pdm09, especially in children (60.8% effective against flu B and 90.3% against H1N1pdm09 in children).

    Read the full influenza vaccine effectiveness: seasonal estimates data.

    In 2018 to 2019, a new ‘booster’ vaccine is being made available for all those aged 65 and over which should provide better protection than the current vaccines. We are also recommending that the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against 4 strains of flu rather than 3 and is currently used for all children under 18 years of age, is made available to all adults in at-risk groups aged between 16 to 64 years.

    Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, said:

    Vaccine effectiveness varies year on year as the flu virus changes and is difficult to predict. Last winter’s flu vaccine provided good protection against A(H1N1)pdm09 and good protection for the quadrivalent vaccine in children against the main Flu B strain which circulated last season. This upcoming season we are recommending that all those under 65 have the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against both the main B strains and the 2 main flu A subtypes. We are also making a new booster vaccine available for all adults aged 65 or over in order to improve the immune response.

    The vaccine offered lower protection against Flu A(H3N2), which also circulated. This is likely due to several factors including a suboptimal match between the main circulating A(H3N2) viruses and the vaccine, the strains for which are recommended by the World Health Organization each year.

    Vaccines are the best defence we have against flu and not only protect people who have received the vaccine but also those around them. We encourage everyone eligible to take up the offer of the vaccine this winter.

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