The challenges of the annual flu vaccine include:
- Variable efficacy – Yearly guesswork involved to predict each strain leads to 10-60% efficacy.1
- Limited supply – The manufacturing process for the annual vaccine is slow and difficult, and a maximum of only 350 million doses are available globally each year. This means only certain populations and demographics are vaccinated.
- Burden on the health services – In the UK the NHS spends more than £100m a year on the annual vaccination programme, which also takes up considerable staff time and energy.2 Despite this, only 70% of eligible groups take up the offer of a vaccine each year.3
- No preparedness for pandemics – The specific targeting means annual vaccines cannot protect against pandemic strains that may arise. No products are currently available for stockpiling. Pandemic vaccines can only be made once the strain is known which can cause delays.