‘Millions’ more doses of flu vaccine are to be delivered after new laws have enabled the Government to distribute a yet-to-be-licensed vaccine.
Pulse reported in August that the Government was looking at Flublok – a quadrivalent influenza vaccine from Sanofi that has been used widely in the US – as a means to boost vaccine supplies.
Today, the Department of Health and Social Care said the MHRA has granted Flublok a ‘temporary license’ to be used in the UK.
This has been made possible by new laws that came into force on Friday last week, which also mean MHRA will be able to approve an unlicensed Covid-19 vaccine for UK use.
The DHSC said the vaccine has ‘met the standards of safety, quality and effectiveness’.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam said: ‘As we approach the winter and cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, it is crucial we double down on efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible from flu.
‘We have increased the number of people eligible for free flu jabs this year to reduce all avoidable risks and protect people from illness.
‘Flublok has been in regular use in the United States – and the evidence shows that it is an excellent product.
‘I want to reassure everyone that all vaccines have undergone robust clinical trials and rigorous checks by the regulator to ensure they are safe, effective and of a high quality.’
It comes as the Government is targeting 30 million people in this year’s expanded flu vaccination campaign, with a larger number of patients having been made eligible for free flu jabs.
GPs in England have been able to place orders for additional flu vaccines from the Government’s central stock since last week. However, practices were advised they cannot use the Government’s central flu stock to ‘plug temporary shortfalls’ and must ‘exhaust’ other supply routes first.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency announced a ‘pause’ to all flu vaccinations for people under 65 this week – including those who are eligible for free jabs.
It said this comes as a result of ‘worldwide shortages’ of vaccine, which means ordering is not expected to resume until ‘mid-November’.