The FAMHP makes a first assessment of the situation regarding the distribution of flu vaccines. More than half of the vaccines have yet to be placed on the market.
This year, flu vaccination will follow a sequential approach. High flu vaccine coverage among older people can help avoid overwhelming health care systems, especially in times of COVID-19. At-risk groups will therefore be given priority until 15 November to get their vaccine in pharmacies. Furthermore, people aged 50 and over will not need a medical prescription to do so, since pharmacists can prescribe the vaccine themselves.
How many doses are available in Belgium?
For the influenza season 2020-2021, about 2,960,000 doses are available in Belgium, that is 10% more than last year. This should be enough to vaccinate at least the at-risk groups, even if there is a moderate increase in vaccination coverage. Depending on the remaining quantities, people not belonging to at-risk groups could be vaccinated after 15 November 2020. Doses destined for Belgium cannot be exported.
State of distribution of flu vaccines
The FAMHP is closely monitoring the distribution of flu vaccines. As of 6 October 2020, pharmaceutical firms had already supplied 45% of the vaccines to wholesaler-distributors, who already supplied 36% of the total amount to pharmacies. Finally, pharmacies already supplied 10% (source: APB/OPHACO pharmacy sector) of the vaccines to patients.
Therefore, 55% of the stock destined for Belgium remains to be placed on the market and 64% to be distributed to pharmacies. A pharmacy might temporarily run out of vaccines until its supplier delivers a new stock. This does not mean that there are no more vaccines.
Enough for at-risk groups if everyone follows the sequential approach
The FAMHP points out that the ordered vaccines will be available in the coming weeks. All parties involved must therefore strictly respect the sequential approach. Wholesaler-distributors must supply all pharmacists who request it, regardless of pre-orders. Pharmacists must order only what is necessary for their at-risk groups. Occupational doctors and general practitioners must follow the prescription recommendations for at-risk groups.