The UK has made millions of additional doses of flu vaccines available in order to support the most comprehensive flu vaccinations programme in the UK’s history – with more than 30 million people anticipated to be vaccinated this year.
Priority for the flu vaccine is being given to the most vulnerable, elderly and children.
In order to support this increased demand and availability, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have authorised the supply of millions of doses of Flublok, a flu vaccine which has been regularly used in the United States for the past three years and is physically and biologically similar to another vaccine, Supemtek, which was recommended for approval by the European Medicines Agency in September 2020.
All vaccines, including Flublok, undergo three stages of clinical trials and are assessed by the regulator for safety, effectiveness and quality before they can be given to patients.
The newly-approved vaccine met the strict MHRA standards for safety, quality and effectiveness.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van Tam said: “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.
“We have increased the number of people eligible for free flu jabs this year to reduce all avoidable risks and protect people from illness.
“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.”
Flu can have serious consequences, with vulnerable people particularly at risk of serious health complications or death. A vaccine helps protect people, as well as reducing transmission to others, including those who may be unable to be vaccinated themselves.
A free flu vaccine is available to:
- people aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- people with some pre-existing conditions
- all school year groups up to Year 7
- household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list
GPs, NHS trusts and community pharmacies will be able to order stock from the government’s centrally procured supply to complement their own flu vaccination stocks, ensuring as many people as possible are able to receive the vaccination this winter.
Dr Christian Schneider, Interim Chief Scientific Officer at the MHRA, added: “Protecting health and saving lives is at the heart of all our work.
“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.
“Your doctor can recommend the best time to be vaccinated and please read the patient information leaflet carefully before you get the flu vaccine.”