COVID-19 vaccines are procured on a four nations basis via the UK Vaccines Taskforce (VTF), who work closely with suppliers to ensure stability and security of supply to the four nations. Purchased vaccines are allocated to Scotland based on a Barnett formula share.
Throughout the pandemic Scottish officials have worked closely with NHS Scotland and VTF colleagues to ensure adequate vaccine supply is in place for our COVID-19 vaccination programmes. This supply planning is informed by JCVI and MHRA guidance. Based on the information received from VTF, we believe there is sufficient inbound supply to support the targets set out above for the Autumn/Winter Programme.
Seasonal flu vaccine
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 25 February 2022, the viral composition of vaccines recommended for the 2022-2023 flu season in the northern hemisphere. Following this, the seasonal flu vaccines have been centrally procured for the forthcoming flu season, in line with the recommendations from the JCVI advice for the coming flu season.
Health Boards are allocated a volume of vaccines and can draw down supplies for delivery locally as and when required throughout the programme. Ongoing and effective management at a local level is essential to the success of the programme. Health Boards and social care services are considering the needs of their eligible cohorts and planning appropriately and timeously in order to effectively deliver the programme.
We have procured additional vaccine to support higher uptake for the coming season, thus ensuring enough vaccine for all those who are eligible.
Given the scale of the vaccination programme, some vaccine wastage has been unavoidable for a variety of reasons based on: the characteristics of the vaccine; logistical issues with cold chain supply; storage failure; and vial size and/or specific clinical situations. When we started the vaccination programme, our planning assumption was that there would be around 5% vaccine wastage. This is a precautionary approach for worst case scenarios and in line with global best planning practice.
From the start of April 2021 to the end of August 2022, our COVID-19 vaccine wastage rate is estimated at 2% overall, which is well below this. This is a significant achievement, and means Health Boards are maximising the vaccines available to us for the benefit of people in Scotland and minimising wastage. Further information on the vaccine wastage data can be found as part of the monthly PHS updates.
We continue to work with Health Boards to ensure we maintain wastage at a minimum, and maximise the availability of vaccines to the people of Scotland. One aspect of a continuous process of improvement undertaken by staff within the vaccination programme was the development of a web-based vaccine waste recording tool. Vaccinators are able to record any vaccine wastage produced at any vaccine clinic. The web-based system was developed primarily to record the number of wasted doses along with the reason they were wasted to help understand common reasons for vaccine wastage and to support the introduction of measures designed to reduce waste.
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