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Manufacturing problems cause supply delays for influenza vaccines

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PJ Online homeThe Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 275 No 7364 p247
27 August 2005

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Manufacturing problems cause supply delays for influenza vaccines

Widespread delays in the influenza vaccine supply chain appear to be inevitable after the development of two problems in the manufacturing process. However, the delays are not expected to be long enough to prevent immunisations being provided within the recommended timeframe.

The issue is of particular relevance to community pharmacists in Scotland, the majority of whom obtain flu vaccines for GPs.

Last week, the Scottish Executive Health Department published details of its influenza immunisation programme that largely mirrors the new arrangements for England and Wales (PJ, 30 July, p132). Patients with chronic liver disease have been added to the groups previously recommended to receive immunisation. Main carers of elderly or disabled people will also be offered vaccination. Within the document, the SEHD acknowledges that delivery of some flu vaccines could be delayed by up to four weeks. In a separate letter, it explains that the situation has arisen due to two factors. First, the World Health Organization provided manufacturers with one of the vaccine seed strains used for vaccine production three to four weeks later than planned. Secondly, reagents used within the vaccine manufacturing process were delivered late.

“As a result of this delay, we would ask GPs and community pharmacists to liaise closely to ensure that they have a sufficient stock of vaccine before publicising their local campaigns and scheduling patients for clinics,” the SEHD advises. Vaccine manufacturers are in the process of ing pharmacists to confirm supply dates. Backing this advice, Frank Owens, chairman of the Scottish Pharmaceutical General Council, said that the success of the vaccination programme depended on pharmacists promptly advising GPs of any changes in delivery dates.

“Community pharmacists in Scotland have an important role to play in ensuring the success of the forthcoming winter vaccination programme, in securing value for money in the procurement of vaccine, in managing associated risks in supply, and in working closely with GP colleagues to co-ordinate and deliver successfully the programme,” he commented.

National publicity campaigns for UK immunisation programmes will be launched in late September or early October.

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