Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Department of Health
This season, 1.95 million doses of influenza vaccine have been purchased, which is double the amount administered last season. The HSE has procured 1.35 million doses of the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) for the forthcoming winter. This vaccine is being made available to all persons in an at-risk group and aged from 6 months up. In addition, the HSE has also purchased 600,000 doses of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), which is delivered via nasal drops rather than by injection and is being made available to all children aged from 2 to 12 years old inclusive.
Deliveries of this vaccine from the manufacturer were not as quick as we would have liked, due to the very challenging international market for flu vaccines. It is also true that demand for vaccination this year is unprecedented. This is the case across Europe and beyond, and in this context it is unlikely that additional supply will become available.
While I cannot comment on individual providers, I can confirm that 1.3 million of the 1.35 million doses of flu vaccine available this winter have been distributed to GPs, pharmacists and other vaccination sites since early October. Distribution of the remaining 50,000 doses will commence before the end of this month. In addition, 420,000 doses of the LAIV for administration to children aged from 2 to 12 have been distributed.
Demand for vaccination remains strong at this point and may exceed available supply. It is likely that the full amount procured, 1.35 million doses, will be distributed and administered. As a consequence, from the fourth round of deliveries which started on 23 October, GPs and pharmacists have been asked that of remaining patients in at-risk groups, priority should be given to the over-65s and healthcare workers with direct patient contact, in line with WHO advice.
The significant increase in uptake among those in the at-risk groups, combined with the addition of vaccination for children aged from 2 to 12, will help reduce the impact of influenza on the community and the health system.