Flu vaccine distribution issues

Members are reporting very robust demand for flu vaccination this season, far in excess of demand in previous seasons. However, availability of flu vaccine stock is proving to be a challenge for both pharmacists and GPs. For several months in the run-up to flu season, we consistently warned the HSE that significant additional quantities of flu vaccine would be needed this year; this appears to be coming to pass, with reduced allocations of HSE flu vaccines to pharmacies and GPs. We have been liaising with the Department of Health, the HSE and the National Immunisation Office, at the highest level, to make our concerns known and to receive reassurances that the HSE has a contingency in place should demand for vaccines among the at-risk population exceed anticipated demand.

Furthermore, we contacted all four manufacturers of flu vaccine authorised for the Irish market – GSK, Mylan, Sanofi and Sequiris – and only one, Sanofi, has confirmed that they will be placing any private stock on the Irish market. Sanofi has said that supply is low, with reduced allocation of private flu vaccines to the Irish market due to increased Health Authority demand across the Northern hemisphere. In response to suggestions that they were favouring certain pharmacies for supply, Sanofi has told us explicitly that they provide stocks to wholesalers but do not define who those stocks are supplied to.