GP practices may not receive flu vaccinations on time this year after the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) changes to the strains used in the vaccine led to delays in manufacturers’ production schedules.
The WHO, which reviews the latest evidence twice annually to decide which strains should be present in the flu vaccine, altered two strains later this year than it did last year.
The LMC Buying Groups Federation, a collective of LMCs that workstogether to negotiate the best deals for practices on supplies, said this had resulted in delays for production manufacturers that could hold up delivery of the vaccines to GP surgeries.
An update on the LMC Buying Groups Federation website said: ‘The LMC Buying Groups Federation has learned that, due to the WHO changing two of the flu strains comparatively late this year, some flu vaccine manufacturers are experiencing a delay in their production schedules which may have a knock-on effect on delivery dates.’
Crucell, a flu vaccine manufacturer that supplied about 7% of flu vaccines received by GPs in 2011, said the WHO’s changes caused a delay in the release of starting materials for production.
They contacted customers to warn them there might be a delay, but said any customer inconvenienced would be compensated as detailed in their contract.
A spokesperson for Janssen, the agents for Crucell products in the UK, said: ‘We are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of any delay on both GP surgeries and their patients.
‘We notified GP practices immediately to give them time to rearrange clinics as needed. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we expect all surgeries to receive their vaccines in time to vaccinate their patients for the coming flu season.’