Vaccine Supply Notification: Varicella vaccine (live) powder and solvent for suspension/solution for injection 0.5ml vials (Varivax® and Varilrix® )

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued a vaccine supply notification for Varicella vaccine (live) powder and solvent for suspension/solution for injection 0.5ml vials (Varivax® and Varilrix®).

VSN/2022/001

Tier 2 – medium impact

Date of issue 12th August 2022

  • Limited supplies of Varivax® and Varilrix® injection are available until mid-October 2022.
  • A clinical prioritisation guideline produced by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has been included below, to support practitioners during this time. (See Supporting Information)
  • Ordering quotas are in place alongside prescription validation for primary care, to ensure equitable and appropriate distribution during this period. (See Supporting Information)

Actions Required

Clinicians in primary care should:

  • only order Varivax® and Varilrix® injection based on an urgent need basis as set out in the guidance below;
  • ensure that Varivax® and Varilrix® injection are only being prescribed for the most vulnerable patients outlined in the advice below; and
  • be aware that prescription validation will be in place for Varivax® and Varilrix® (See Supporting Information).

Supporting information

Supply of Varilrix®
AAH have put quotas in place for GPs to limit the ordering of Varilrix® and safeguard supplies during this shortage. To override this quota or obtain stock in any other primary care setting (including community pharmacy) a prescription will be required. The process to obtain stock through the prescription validation system is as follows:

  • Pharmacy to contact AAH Quota Management Customer Care team:
  • Online https://www.aah.co.uk/s/quotarequest or by logging into AAH Point https://www.aah.co.uk/s/signin then choose Additional Services and select Quotas.
  • The pharmacy should follow the steps and fill in the required information including their email address.
  • The pharmacy can also call: 0344 561 8899 and select option 3 (quota)
  • The pharmacy will need to have the prescription details available
  • The AAH team will review the request and follow the guidance provided below to validate the prescription and approve the order.

Supply of Varivax®
A prescription validation system is in place for all primary care settings. A prescription will need to be generated for any patient requiring Varivax® in line with the prioritisation information below, including those who would previously have received the vaccine under a Patient Group Direction (PGD).

Orders can be submitted through the portal at www.myahportal.co.uk

This functionality will be available at all times for orders to be placed and checked.

To help assist with this new service, customers can view this short video on how to use the new portal functionality.

If customers experience any difficulties and require support, they can contact the Customer Portal Team on 0330 100 0448 – option 8 or email CustomerPortal@alliance-healthcare.co.uk with ‘PVS’ in the title of the email.

Prioritisation of varicella vaccine during supply shortage (August and September 2022)
In the UK varicella vaccination is not routinely offered as part of the UK childhood schedule but is recommended for specific groups as a selective pre-exposure vaccination strategy. This includes:

Close susceptible contacts of immunocompromised individuals
Non-immune healthcare workers who have regular patient contact and susceptible laboratory workers in virology laboratories at risk of exposure to varicella virus.

Since varicella infection is so common in childhood, 90% of adults raised in the UK are immune. Varicella is seasonal with annual incidence peaking in spring months between March to May. Specific groups are at higher risk of complications from varicella. This includes immunocompromised individuals, neonates and pregnant women. The current UK selective programme aims to protect those at highest risk of severe disease from exposure. In addition to the recommended uses above, vaccination has also been used in outbreak settings and offered through the private market for susceptible individuals including children. In light of the current supply shortages of varicella vaccines, the UKHSA recommends prioritising available stock for those at greatest risk from severe disease. In the current situation, varicella vaccine should be restricted to the following groups:

1. Susceptible child household contacts of immunocompromised individuals
2. Susceptible adult household contacts of immunocompromised individuals
3. Non-immune healthcare workers working with severely immunosuppressed patients (as defined in the Green book)

Susceptibility to varicella in adults should be confirmed by quantitative antibody testing as defined in the Green Book (<100 IU/ml).
During the current shortage, vaccination of other healthcare workers and laboratory workers should be deferred.

A copy of this medicine supply notification, including further information, has been sent to all pharmacy NHS email addresses.

DHSC and NHSE/I have now launched an online Medicines Supply Tool, which provides up to date information about medicine supply issues. The contents of these MSNs can now be viewed on the Tool.

The Tool also details any changes to resupply dates and updates to the entries.

To access the Tool you will need  an NHS email address. Once set up and logged in, you will be able to access it online.

New shortages not listed on the SPS website, can be reported using our shortage reporting tool.

Support the call for more funding by recording information about the informal advice you provide to patients over just one day.

Click Here