Watchdog warns on vaccine shortages
The Government must have a clear, long-term strategy for combating the threat of vaccine shortages or the national childhood immunisation programme will be put at serious risk, the National Audit Office warns.
The public spending watchdog's report into the procurement of vaccines, published last week, highlighted the danger of having 'near monopolies' in the supply industry which could aggravate the problem of recurrent shortages.
The Department of Health has previously had to deal with shortages in MMR, whole-cell DTP, Hib and BCG vaccines.
Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said the potential for recurring shortages would remain because of the complex and lengthy nature of vaccine production.
He said: 'Regarding shortages in the supply of vaccines, the public health consequences may be very serious indeed.
'The department faces a challenge in ensuring vaccine supplies where the number of suppliers is diminishing and some suppliers enjoy a near monopoly.'
The report also found no link between personal donations to the Labour Party and the award last year of a
£32 million contract from the Government to PowderJect for the supply of smallpox vaccine.