Influenza: Vaccination

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of availability of the 2018-19 seasonal flu vaccine.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Public Health England (PHE) provides influenza vaccines centrally for the children’s influenza programme. Centrally purchased influenza vaccines are carefully monitored by PHE to ensure there is equitable distribution across England and sufficient in-date vaccine for patients who present throughout the season.

General practitioners and other providers are directly responsible for the influenza vaccine supplies used to deliver the national influenza programme to the other eligible groups. PHE maintains oversight to help facilitate a constant supply of vaccine, liaising with vaccine manufacturers to ascertain whether there are any manufacturing problems which could impact the running of the programme at a national level.

This winter, eligible adults aged 18-64 were offered a quadrivalent influenza vaccine, and those aged 65 and over were offered a newly licensed adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV). There were a number of short-term localised shortages of both vaccines reported, particularly for aTIV due to staggered deliveries from the manufacturer between September and November. The NHS managed these shortages locally, but some patients had to wait longer than usual to be vaccinated. However, there was no overall shortage of either vaccine.

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