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Flu vaccines will not be commercially available and the Government Strategic Reserve Agency (RARS) will be responsible for distributing them this year. Last year, medical centres did not receive vaccine supplies from RARS until December, so there is concern that the situation could repeat.
For the 2021/2022 flu vaccination season, both patients and other healthcare providers, such as GPs, will not be able to order vaccines themselves, as RARS will be responsible for all orders and distribution. As early as 2020, it was reported that the quantities of vaccines that EU countries would receive would depend on their previous orders and the percentage of people vaccinated in previous years. According to such arrangements, Poland may receive 2-3 million doses, as it regularly vaccinates 3-4% of the population.
In previous years, the responsibility for negotiating vaccine prices with pharmaceutical wholesalers belonged to the Federation of Healthcare Employers’ Associations – Porozumienie Zielonogórskie, which represents general practitioners. However, according to one specialist doctor, this year Porozumienie Zielonogorskie has not received any orders. It is also worrying that the flu vaccination period is in September and October, and if there are no orders for the end of August, there is a possibility that the vaccines will not be delivered on time.
There were already problems with the availability of vaccines last year. Despite huge demand, the product could not be obtained from either pharmacies or wholesalers. The demand for vaccines was probably increased by the Covid-19 pandemic, which developed public awareness of vaccination prevention and appeals by doctors to vaccinate, especially the elderly, against influenza. Interestingly, 2020 saw the lowest number of flu cases in Poland since 2013. Such a drop in the number of infections was related, among others, to the introduction of a sanitary regime due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As it will not be possible to buy vaccines on the free market this year, patients will have to rely on supplies organised by the government, whose procurement is done through the National Health Fund (NFZ). So far, the only information from the Fund is an e-mail sent to Primary Healthcare Centres (POZ) about the vaccine distribution model, which does not say when the first deliveries of vaccines can be expected.