There is currently a worldwide shortage in supply of Hepatitis A and B vaccines. There is a very small number of vaccine manufacturers, all of which appear to have been affected simultaneously by the same issue, which has led to a rapid reduction in availability of vaccine supply. International Medical Management (IMM), like other travel clinic service providers, has recently been supplied with only just enough vaccine to meet customer demand, but we have now been advised by the UK government Department of Health that the supply difficulty has become so acute that strict ‘rationing’ arrangements will be put in place.
The UK government has now advised that while NHS Boards and Trusts, NHS hospital GUM/HIV and A&E services, and NHS specialist community services will continue to receive strictly limited vaccine supplies, GP practices and retail pharmacies will not be receiving any vaccine, until further notice.
In addition, the UK government Department of Health has also decided that, with immediate effect, Travel Clinics, private Occupational Health companies, and Universities will not be receiving any vaccine, until further notice.
Since IMM is both a private Occupational Health service and Travel Clinic service provider, this means that we are unable to secure further vaccine supplies. As we have only been able to order small quantities of vaccine at a time, we now expect to run out of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine within the next few days.
It is expected that the vaccine shortage will continue into early 2018. In the meantime, we will continue to offer clients attending our Travel Clinic immunisation for other disease where appropriate (there is no shortage of other vaccines), and our usual advice on avoidance measures for both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and emphasize the even greater importance than usual of following this.
While we appreciate that foreign travel may be an unavoidable need for many of the your employees attending our Travel Clinic, we recommend that you do review the necessity for travel to areas where Hepatitis A and/or Hepatitis B vaccines are recommended for unimmunised employees. Where travel is unavoidable we recommend that you encourage, so far as possible, your employees follow the disease avoidance advice provided to them at Travel Clinic appointments.
We will advise you of any change to the situation in vaccine supply whenever we are advised of this by UK government.