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Government stockpiles 400,000 adult flu vaccinations in case of no-deal Brexit

The Government has ordered almost half a million extra adult flu vaccinations to stockpile in case of a no-deal Brexit.

In a House of Lords debate on Brexit and the supply of medicines and medical devices on 2 October, the Lord in Waiting Lord Bethall assured the Lords that the Department for Health and Social Care is ‘doing everything possible’ to prepare for a no-deal exit from the EU.

It comes as significant supplier Sanofi Pasteur said last week that practice may face a one or two week delay in the delivery of quadrivalent flu vaccines, which are for 18-64-year-olds.

The Government has therefore stockpiled more vaccines to ‘ensure the uninterrupted supply’ following Brexit.

In the House of Lords, Lord Bethall said: ‘I reassure patients that our plans to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical products when we leave the EU are as solid as possible.’

Baroness Thornton, the shadow health spokesperson raised concerns about the availability of the flu vaccine, which would be ‘affected’ by a no-deal.

In response, Lord Bethall said the Government procured an extra 400,000 adult vaccines to assure that GP practices do not run out.

He added: ‘The noble Baroness makes a very fair point about concerns about easily diminished medicines such as vaccines and isotopes. I reassure her that plans are very well advanced to provide adequate stocks.

‘The Government has procured a buffer stock of 400,000 adult vaccines, and a large number of measures have been put in place, including the use of air freight, the search for alternative vaccines where necessary and the central stockpiling of very large numbers of medical supplies.’

However, Professor Azeem Majeed, head of primary care at Imperial College London, said 400,000 is not a lot given the number of people eligible for flu vaccinations.

He said: ‘At the moment, my own practice is well-supplied has sufficient vaccines. Four hundred thousand vaccines sounds like quite a lot but the number of people eligible for flu vaccine in England is around 25 million, which is approaching half the population.

‘There do though seem to be sufficient supplies at present and none of the practices I am in contact with are reporting shortages.’

The Government recently issued its first serious shortage protocol (SSP) to tackle the drug shortage crisis, by allowing pharmacists to change the strength of antidepressant fluoxetine on prescriptions without consulting a GP first.

The health secretary also announced the Government was 'seriously' considering compulsory childhood vaccinations. 

Readers' comments (8)

  • Prof Majeed,

    How come all the practices you are speaking to are well supplied when my first delivery of quadrivalent vaccine is scheduled for 11th November, and may be delayed beyond that?

    If there is plenty of vaccine around can we have some please

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  • Vinci Ho

    Same here

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  • Azeem Majeed

    copernicus | GP Partner/Principal10 Oct 2019 9:16pm

    Vinci Ho | GP Partner/Principal11 Oct 2019 6:14am

    My own practice is well-supplied with both flu vaccines but I am aware that is not the case in all practices. I guess it may depend on what supplier you use.

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  • 80% GP of supply comes from Sanofi they flagged to us that they had manufacturing issues early in the year. Not that they were involved in creating a national stockpile. Our local pharmacies have access to supplies of quad vaccine but suspect that they aren't tied to Sanofi. We look like we will get most of ours later than our pharmacy colleagues and haven't had an even playing field. Can Azeem tell us who is supplying the national stockpile and is it being created ahead of supply to GPs. I would prefer it was in patients arms now rather than lingering about in a warehouse seems like misplaced business continuity that is creating an actual problem to solve a potential one.

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  • Azeem Majeed

    My name's not Rover | GP Partner/Principal 11 Oct 2019 4:24pm

    I agree it would be better to release flu vaccines to practices now if there are any that are running out of supplies, rather than stockpiling them. One issue that may be causing pressure on supplies in some areas is that Public Health England has increased the number of eligible people to around 25 million this winter.

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  • Flu jabs are only any use early in the season, ie in October. Where are 400,000 additional eligible patients likely to come from AFTER 31st October if we Brexit without a deal, beyond those who are already here?
    Will 400,000 brits be forcefully repatria
    ted from Europe if there is no deal??? Even they should have had their jab during October!

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  • DrRubbishBin

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  • The irony a government telling everyone else not to stockpile with the Brexit process is itself stockpiling the irony.Do they know something we dont.

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