Written Answers. - Influenza Vaccine.

Michael Ferris


119 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the current crisis in the supply of the influenza vaccine in the health service; the plans his Department has to obtain new supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

There is no crisis in the supply of influenza vaccine. It is my policy that the necessary flu vaccine will be available.

The Department of Health have taken all the appropriate measures to ensure that the health boards have sufficient stocks of influenza vaccine to meet the demand from persons in the groups deemed to be at risk. In the context, the WHO and the Department do not recommend vaccination of the general population but of those who are at risk due to chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, chronic renal disease and diabetics melitus or other endocrine disorders or similarily compromised patients.

In May 1990, the World Health Organisation identified the virus strains of influenza for 1990-91 and recommended the appropriate influenza vaccine strains.

In May 1990 the Department of Health advised the health boards of the virus strains and the recommended vaccines and asked the health boards to ensure that they ordered adequate supplies, directly from the suppliers, for the at risk groups in their area. The health boards were also asked to advise people in these at risk groups to get the vaccine. In October 1990, the Department of Health again contacted the health boards reminding them to ensure that they have sufficient vaccines in stock. At that time, the Department also sought information on the numbers of vaccines on hand and on any additional stocks required to meet the needs of the boards. As a result of this request the health boards requested a total of 12,065 additional doses to meet their needs. The Department immediately ordered 12,500 doses to meet this need and this has been distributed to the boards.
I am satisfied, having evaluated the situation with the health boards, that the boards have identified the likely demand for this vaccine in their areas and that this demand has been met.