Communication Creates Transparency
Vaccines are a blessing – but they must be available at all times. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut uses a supply shortages management system to identify shortages in vaccines and to adjust for them.
In 2015 the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut established a supply shortages management plan in collaboration with the Robert Koch-Institut and the vaccine manufacturers. One result of this is that the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut’s website has been providing information about supply shortages, their anticipated duration, and available alternatives. This allows users, especially pharmacies and doctors’ practices, to react to shortages at an early stage. Prof. Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding, head of the Microbiology division, together with her team is continuously optimising the reporting system, which shows the manufacturers’ delivery situation on a daily basis.
The tools that have been set up and the legal requirements that were implemented in 2020 enable us to better monitor supply and to remedy any problems at an early stage using appropriate measures.Prof. Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding , Head of the Microbiology Division
The coronavirus pandemic led to supply shortages of pneumococcal and influenza vaccines. The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommended these vaccinations in particular for older people and risk groups. Like SARS-CoV-2, influenza viruses and pneumococci can cause severe inflammation of the lungs. The willingness to be vaccinated increased dramatically among the general public. In March 2020, the Federal Ministry of Health declared a supply shortage for pneumococcal vaccines. In accordance with Section 79 of the Medicinal Products Act, this led to the exceptional authorisation to import the shortfall in vaccine doses – thus, pneumococcal vaccines could be imported.
The supply of influenza vaccines also proved to be a challenge - more people than ever before wanted to be vaccinated. Many doctors’ practices did not have enough influenza vaccines, and the warehouses of wholesalers and pharmacies were empty. What exactly was the cause? The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut used its reporting system for consumer reports and called on doctors’ practices, pharmacies and private individuals to report any supply shortages. It quickly became apparent that the whole of Germany was suffering from a shortage of vaccines. This was confirmed by a survey of doctors initiated by the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut. The situation only eased after the federal reserve supply was gradually delivered between October and December, and demand fell in the lockdown before Christmas. At the same time, pneumococcal and influenza virus infections fell sharply on account of the lockdown and other precautionary measures.
We took responsibility, got stakeholders around the table and set up a transparent supply shortages management system.,
In 2020, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut released around 25 million doses of influenza vaccines for Germany, around five million more than ever before. It transpired that this number of doses was sufficient. The rush for the vaccines, however, started early in the pandemic, which initially led to distribution difficulties. Planning is already underway to avoid any supply shortages during the next flu season.
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