Government mulls centralised purchase of flu vaccine

21 January 2011
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21 January 2011 | Angeline Albert

The government is considering buying the flu vaccine centrally to save money and more effectively manage supply and demand.

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.

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