Community pharmacies will be able to order supplies of Flublok vaccine as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorized the drug for temporary supply in the UK.
The move will make millions of extra flu jabs available to support the flu vaccination programme, billed as the largest in the UK’s history with an aim of covering over 30 million people.
“As we approach the winter and cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, it is crucial we double down on efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible from flu,” commented Professor Jonathan Van Tam, deputy chief medical officer.
“Flublok has been in regular use in the United States – and the evidence shows that it is an excellent product. I want to reassure everyone that all vaccines have undergone robust clinical trials and rigorous checks by the regulator to ensure they are safe, effective and of a high quality.”
Flublok has been used in the US since 2016 after it’s licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. A physically and biologically similar vaccine, Supemtek, has the approval of the European Medicines Agency.
“The MHRA assessed Flublok against safety, quality and effectiveness standards and sought advice from the government’s independent expert scientific advisory body – the Commission on Human Medicines. We are satisfied that this vaccine protects against flu and meets high standards of safety and quality,” said Dr Christian Schneider, interim chief scientific officer at the regulator.
Pharmacies can order stock from the government’s centrally-procured supply to complement their own flu vaccination stocks.
Free flu jabs are available to people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, and those with some pre-existing conditions; all school year groups up to year 7 and household contacts of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List.
The Department of Health and Social Care will decide on opening the programme to people aged 50 to 64 once the vaccination of these ‘at-risk’ groups is well underway.