Influenza Vaccine Supply for the 2006/7 Season: Addressing Challenges in Recommended Strain Yield to Prevent Delivery Delays
The European Vaccine Manufacturers1 are currently facing production delays for the upcoming season, primarily attributable to the low manufacturing yield2 of one of the recommended strains (H3N2) intended for inclusion in the 2006/7 flu vaccine. In close collaboration with European and national regulatory authorities, proactive measures are being implemented to rectify this situation. Additionally, vaccine manufacturers are extending their production campaigns to ensure the timely delivery of the requested quantities.
Potential Implications for Upcoming Flu Vaccination Campaigns
Due to the aforementioned challenge, the commencement of flu vaccine distribution in the European market is anticipated to align with the original schedule. However, it is probable that the initial vaccine supply will be limited, and distribution will extend over a more extended period.
In response to this situation, EVM members propose that public health authorities, in close cooperation with their vaccine suppliers, consider a flexible commencement for their 2006/7 influenza vaccination campaigns. Furthermore, it is recommended to extend vaccination programs throughout the year, encompassing the recommended population in each EU country.
By taking these measures, EVM members anticipate that an ample vaccine supply will be attainable, thus facilitating the completion of influenza vaccination programs during the upcoming season.
Influenza Vaccine Production
Annually, the production of new influenza vaccines is essential to provide effective protection against the prevailing strains of the virus, which have the potential to vary from one year to another.
A worldwide monitoring system for influenza viruses operates year-round through the WHO Influenza Surveillance Network. This network gathers data on the strains currently in circulation and determines the strains that should be incorporated into the upcoming season’s influenza vaccine. Subsequently, the European Medicines Agency confirms the vaccine composition for the forthcoming season.
Use of Influenza Vaccines
Influenza vaccination is strongly advised on an annual basis. The specific high-risk groups eligible for vaccination may differ from country to country, depending on national protocols and recommendations. However, as a general guideline, vaccination is typically recommended for the following populations:
- All individuals above a nationally determined age threshold
- Other groups with particular medical conditions, as per national policies (e.g., individuals with asthma, diabetes, etc.).