HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 12 October 2021

Media Coverage

Pharmacies in England can buy extra flu vaccine stock from DH supply
Chemist and Druggist, Eliza Loukou, 11 October 2021

The Chemist and Druggist reports that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has detailed how pharmacies can access additional stock of influenza vaccines to top up local supplies.

To achieve an even higher vaccine uptake as compared to last year, the additional supply of influenza vaccines has been secured as a temporary measure.

The DHSC wrote that it “has boosted supply to community pharmacies by working with manufacturers to ensure more stock is available for wholesalers”. Community pharmacies will be able to purchase stock directly through wholesalers, with most of the stock arriving from early November.


Parliamentary Coverage

Coronavirus: lessons learned to date report published
12 October 2021

The House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee have published “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date”, a report which examines the initial UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report draws on evidence from 50 witnesses, 400 written submissions and contains 38 recommendations to the Government and public bodies.

The Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP and Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee said: “The UK response has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both to ensure that we perform as best as we possibly can during the remainder of the pandemic and in the future.”

Of particular interest in the report was the mention of managing NHS capacity during a health crisis. This included building more resilience into public services rather than running everything to the optimum just-in-time efficiency. Former NHS Chief Executive Officer Sir Simon Stevens in his evidence highlighted the need for a buffer to create resilience which may look wasteful in non-crisis time.

The report further highlighted that NHS Test and Trace was unable to meet demand due to insufficient laboratory capacity, in part because of delays in the delivery of testing equipment and supply chain problems with swabs, screening kits and testing reagents.

The poor access to PPE during the early period of the pandemic was also highlighted, where in March 2020, Sarah Pickup of the Local Government Association called access to PPE “insufficient” and James Bullion of ADASS called the delivery of PPE “extremely erratic and difficult.” The report further stated that this issue was compounded for staff from Black, Asian and minority ethic communities in the NHS and care sector.

Regarding the distribution of vaccines, the report stated that it sprang into large scale operation explosively and impressively. The distribution of vaccines made extensive use of existing NHS resources such as hospitals, GPs and pharmacists and welcomed third party assistance such as volunteer groups.


Full Coverage

Pharmacies in England can buy extra flu vaccine stock from DH supply
Chemist and Druggist, Eliza Loukou, 11 October 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has detailed how pharmacies in England can access additional stock of influenza vaccines, which it has secured to help top up local supplies.

Following the success of last year’s seasonal flu immunisation programme, which resulted in record numbers of flu vaccine uptake in the UK, the DH hopes to “achieve even higher vaccine uptake rates compared to last year”, it wrote in guidance for pharmacies published last week (October 8).

To achieve this, it has secured additional supplies of influenza vaccines, “as a temporary measure for this year only”, it said.

The “DH has boosted supply to community pharmacies by working with manufacturers to ensure more stock is available for wholesalers”, it wrote.

Pharmacies: Place orders with wholesalers

Community pharmacies are among the NHS providers eligible to receive the centrally secured stock, when they determine they need additional supplies. As with last year, community pharmacies will be able to purchase stock directly through wholesalers, the DH added.

Pharmacies should also contact their wholesalers for details regarding what stock is available, the DH added. It specified in the guidance that it has ordered additional stocks of QIVc, QIVe and QIVr to boost supply.

Most of the stock will arrive from early November onwards and is intended to complement existing flu vaccine supply.

Providers should work with commissioners to ensure stock is prioritised to where uptake is lower, the DH said.

Assess uptake rates

As stock cannot be returned at the end of the flu season, pharmacies must assess whether they need to buy more flu vaccines by analysing “current uptake in eligible cohorts –taking into account booked clinics – and calculating any additional vaccines required”, according to the guidance.

They should purchase vaccines according to the needs of the local population they serve, the DH added.

It wrote that the process for accessing the supplemental flu vaccine stock “has been purposefully designed to limit the impact on business-as-usual vaccinations and supply chains”.

Community pharmacies in England have already administered almost 1.7 million flu jabs as of October 10, according to provisional data collated by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

Community pharmacies in England administered almost three million influenza vaccines during last year’s flu season, C+D reported in April.

The impact of the flu is predicted to be greater this winter, due to measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

Because of these measures, influenza levels were extremely low globally last year, resulting in a lower level of population immunity this winter, NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote in a letter to contractors this summer.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 12 October 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

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