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Ahead of flu season, flu vaccines in Estonia already sold out

Flu vaccine producers planned on bringing 63,000 doses of flu vaccines to Estonia for this year, a quarter more than last season. Before the flu season has even begun, however, these vaccines have already all sold out.

Kadri Saar, a senior inspector at the Bureau of Activity Licences and Inspections of the State Agency of Medicines, told ERR that it is the drug manufacturer that plans the marketing of a vaccine, generally basing its forecasts on previously sold quantities.

According to the state agency's information, flu vaccine producers had planned on bringing a total of 63,000 doses of the flu vaccine to Estonia for the upcoming season. This figure indicated a 25 percent or 15,000-dose increase over last year's quantities, however they have nonetheless all been sold already.

"Holders of marketing authorizations are seeking additional stocks of the flu vaccine, but as it is not possible to produce more of the vaccines in the middle of the flu season due to long production times, drug manufacturer representatives can only bring additional doses of the vaccines to Estonia from other countries' stocks under agreement with the respective countries," Saar explained.

She noted that, as a result, deliveries of the vaccine may not be reliable and delays may occur. Marketing authorization holders have notified the State Agency of Medicines of the opportunity to bring additional stocks of both vaccines to Estonia, together more than 15,000 doses thereof.

Not the first time

Health Board spokesperson Iiris Saluri noted that this marked the third year in which flu vaccines have been sold out even before the true onset of the flu season.

"If there already aren't vaccines available in all pharmacies, then honestly that is concerning, because there are still very many people who are only just weighing the decision to get vaccinated," she said.

According to Saluri, Health Board statistics indicate that vaccination numbers against the flu have increased, indicating that awareness efforts have been successful. She also noted that last year's unfortunate statistic indicating that the flu can prove deadly for the elderly in particular may be influencing older people to get vaccinated.

This year's flu season has yet to begin, and according to Saluri, the virus as a rule begins making its rounds in January and February, but last season the flu began to spread as early as November.

Two types of flu vaccine are available this season: one type of vaccine protects against three strains of the flu and can be administered to children as young as six months of age, while the other, more expensive vaccine protects against four strains and is appropriate for use in those ages three and up.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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