Manufacturers of key animal vaccines are currently building capacity and the outlook for supplies is “looking better” for next year, Sam Gayton from MSD Animal Health told a National Sheep Association (NSA) webinar on Wednesday.

Despite the situation improving, Gayton warned that it still “won’t be without disruption next year” as manufacturers come to terms with a new operating environment outside of the EU and the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding his thoughts, Professor Jonathan Statham, who chairs the animal health and welfare board for England, explained how in recent decades, vaccine suppliers had moved to a just-in-time supply chain modelled on the Japanese car industry.

“It removes the slack in the system, but it can reduce our resilience to manage stocks as we haven’t a warehouse full of stock,” he said. When COVID-19 hit, any stockpiles of raw materials and components, including vials, syringes and rubber stops were quickly used up, ultimately disrupting vaccine supply.

According to Joe Henry, a practicing vet in Yorkshire, it has been a “nightmare” sourcing vaccines for the likes of Clostridial diseases, Toxoplasmosis, Enzootic Abortion, Footrot and Pasteurella. “Get organised, speak to your vet, tell them what you are going to need. We can look for alternatives,” he advised.

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