Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Questions (666)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

666. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health when the next batch of flu vaccine will be available; the number of persons awaiting the vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41767/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

1.95 million doses of influenza vaccine, including 1.35 million doses of the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) for administration to all persons in an at-risk group and 600,000 doses of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) for all children aged from 2 to 12 years old inclusive, have been made available for the current influenza vaccination programme. The amount of vaccine made available for this winter is almost double the amount of vaccine administered last winter.

Over 1.33 million of the 1.35 million doses of flu vaccine available this winter have been distributed to GPs, pharmacists and other vaccination sites. Deliveries are continuing and stock is expected to be depleted by the end of the year. In addition, over 460,000 doses of the LAIV for administration to children aged from 2 to 12 have been distributed. 

Notwithstanding the large increase in available vaccine this year, the full supply of QIV may be used, representing an increase of 35% in uptake over last year. At that stage, sufficient stock will have been delivered for an uptake in excess of 80% in the targeted groups. Not all persons eligible under the programme avail of vaccination, and so it is not possible to quantify the number of persons who may still be awaiting vaccination.

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. 

As of 3rd December, over 1.1 million claims for reimbursement from GPs and pharmacists for the administration of influenza vaccines have been received by PCERS.

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.