21 January 2011 |
Responding to a question in the House of Lords this week, health
minister Lord Howe,
who is responsible for NHS commissioning reform, said: "Almost all
vaccines, excepting seasonal flu vaccines, are procured centrally.
“Central procurement does provide a cost-effective arrangement and can
take account of the variations in supply and demand. It also gives us the
ability to track where the batches of vaccine have gone. So, we are looking at
taking into the Department of Health (DH) the procurement of the seasonal flu vaccine."
The move to bring the purchase of flu vaccines under central control
follows shortages in vaccine supplies this winter that left some areas with a
shortage and others with a surplus. The
DH transferred vaccines from well-stocked GP surgeries to meet shortfalls in
other areas of the country.
Lord Howe added there were
sufficient supplies of the vaccine to cover England. “Reports of shortages are
I hope a matter of past history,” he said.