HSE seeks tender for flu vaccines in event of ‘pandemic’

Contract with provider could be activated in next four years but only in case of emergency

There have been 15 confirmed deaths and 460 cases where patients were hospitalised with flu, according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Photograph: Getty Images

There have been 15 confirmed deaths and 460 cases where patients were hospitalised with flu, according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Health Service Executive has advertised a €1.5 million tender for the supply of flu vaccines “in the event of a pandemic being declared by the World Health Organisation”.

The contract with a vaccine provider could be drawn down at any time over the next four years, but only if a pandemic is declared.

“If a pandemic is not declared, then there would be no vaccines needed,” a spokesman said.

According to the tender notice, the HSE wants interested parties to participate in a “competitive dialogue procedure” for the award of an advance purchase agreement to supply sufficient vaccines for about one million people.

The contract is designed to ensure Ireland would have an adequate supply of vaccines to provide protection during a flu pandemic, when demand from other countries for supplies would also be high.

Widespread concern

The last time Ireland ordered vaccines on a large scale to combat a major health emergency was during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. More than seven million doses of two vaccines were ordered by the HSE in response to widespread concern over the possible impact of the pandemic.

In the end, the consequences were not as bad as was feared. The H1N1 virus known then as swine flu turned out to be a relatively mild strain. Health authorities found themselves saddled with two-thirds of the swine flu vaccines unused.

Flu activity this winter remains high, though it appears to have stabilised. The H1N1 strain is predominating in Ireland and the rest of Europe.

There have been 15 confirmed deaths and 460 cases where patients were hospitalised with flu, according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The flu vaccine supplied this winter provides good protection against H1N1 strains, but over 250,000 doses remain unused.