Vaccines came much too late
Due to the great demand for flu vaccinations, pharmacists then re-ordered and the Federal Ministry of Health also released the national reserve of six million doses. But deliveries were delayed, the reserve was delivered late and did not reach many pharmacies until early December.
The people were in lockdown, working from home with few contacts, the focus was on a corona vaccination, but no longer on an influenza vaccination.
Thousands of unused flu vaccine doses in Bavaria
The y reported 35,000 flu vaccine doses stored in their refrigerators. Extrapolated to all pharmacies in the Free State, there could be far more than 200,000 doses that have not yet been inoculated.
The Hessian Pharmacists Association assumes that around 70,000 cans with a value of 700,000 euros will have to be destroyed after the expiry date. A survey by the North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association also showed that 100,000 vaccine doses are still stored in the Rhine and Ruhr regions for this flu season. If they are destroyed now, it will cost the pharmacist ten euros per unit, because that is the average purchase value per dose.
Flu vaccine for the coming season must be ordered now
Due to the impending financial loss, many pharmacists are reluctant to order the flu vaccine for the coming season. But it has to be ordered now.
“It is already becoming clear that most of our colleagues hardly ever pre-order additional vaccines at their own risk beyond the medical profession.” Thomas Preis, North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association
The order quantities for medical practices also run through them. Various pharmacists’ associations now fear that the individual pharmacies will only order the amount for medical practices and that no additional reserve will be built up. Doctors who, as in the previous season, had not ordered anything in advance, would then give nothing.
High dose flu vaccine for the elderly
And there will also be legislative changes in the next flu season, which, according to the associations, will lead to even more annoyance among many pharmacists.
The Standing Vaccination Commission found that this vaccine was more effective. Should the approval of the corresponding vaccine from Sanofi also be extended to the age group between 60 and 64, they would also be entitled to high-dose vaccine.
The reason this particular vaccine is used for the elderly is that the immune system becomes less effective as we age, making infections more difficult. High-dose influenza vaccines are more effective in seniors.
The “Fluzone High Dose Quadrivalent” has four times the amount of antigen and Sanofi will initially be the sole supplier on the German market. This year it was also inoculated in Germany as a US import. Last May it received approval in Germany and operates under the name Efluelda.
High dose vaccine – expensive vaccine
However, according to the chairman of the North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association, Thomas Preis, these vaccines are four times as expensive as the normal vaccine. Ten cans are offered for around 405 euros. A pack of ten of the “normal” vaccine, such as Flucelvax, has a list price of around 130 euros.
However, in order to have the high-dose influenza vaccine in the refrigerator in time for the vaccination season, the pharmacist must order it in good time and stock it up. That means he has to pay in advance. But the amount for stockpiling is four times as high this year. For some colleagues, says Preis, that would mean up to six-figure amounts. However, that is no longer economically viable.
The remuneration that a pharmacist receives for a dose of vaccine remains the same. It is one euro, so price. According to the association’s calculations, a pharmacy dispenses an average of around 1,000 flu vaccines per season.
The purchasing volume per pharmacy would increase from around 10,000 euros to up to 40,000 euros.
“We criticize very fiercely that the already then extremely scarce fee of one euro per vaccination dose, which the legislature set in the course of the law that came into force in May 2019, the costs for pre-financing, advice, delivery, risk surcharge for loss of goods, non-acceptance and Retaxations by health insurance companies do not even begin to cover these high-dose vaccines. ” Thomas Preis, North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association
A separate vaccine for each influenza season
For the first time last year, the Paul Ehrlich Institute carried out a needs assessment for the influenza vaccine in Germany. But how great the demand for flu vaccinations actually is in one season can only be guessed at and depends on many factors. But the production of vaccines against influenza is complex and, above all, time-consuming.
The pharmaceutical companies therefore inquire about the demand very early in the year so that it can be delivered in autumn.
The World Health Organization, WHO, determines what the respective vaccine must look like for the coming season. Virologists around the world are observing the development of influenza viruses. Twice a year, the WHO makes a recommendation as to which four virus strains the seasonal vaccine should work against.
The complex manufacturing process takes up to six months.