Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (769, 833)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

769. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Health if he will address the lack of flu vaccines available to doctors and pharmacists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37778/20]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

833. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health the reason general practitioner practices in County Kerry are still waiting for the HSE to replenish flu vaccine stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38219/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 769 and 833 together.

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 administration to all persons in an at-risk group, as well as 600,000 doses of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) for all children aged from 2 to 12 years old inclusive.

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. In addition, over 440,000 doses of the LAIV for administration to children aged from 2 to 12 have been distributed. As of 22nd November, over 1 million claims for reimbursement from GPs and pharmacists for the administration of influenza vaccines have been received by PCERS, including approximately 130,000 claims for the administration of nasal LAIV to children aged 2 -12.

Demand for vaccination remains strong at this point and may exceed available QIV supply. It is likely that the full amount procured, 1.35 million doses, will be administered. Given the demand on the international market for influenza vaccine, it is not likely to be possible to procure additional supply.

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.

Each year a certain amount of vaccine is “held back” to ensure those in at-risk groups receive vaccines. With the unprecedented demand this year it is important that the HSE manage the distribution of the remaining doses in order to target administration to the at-risk groups who need it the most. The delivery of the final 50,000 QIV doses to sites across the country commenced Monday 23rd November.

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.