Oct 9, 2019 - World

U.K. rushes to stockpile flu shots amid threat of no-deal Brexit

A flu vaccine.

Photo: Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images

Distributing flu vaccines each annual season is a complex process, but the threat of a no-deal Brexit is only adding further complications, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: The prospect of the U.K. leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a withdrawal agreement has brought on fears of food and medicine shortages. That could mean lacking vaccines, leaving the elderly and young especially susceptible to the flu and other illnesses.

  • British officials are booking space on planes to help prevent delays and have opened an office in Amsterdam geared towards addressing regulatory hurdles.
  • The total cost to prepare for the potential situation has reached £10 million, or roughly $12 million.
  • Flu season generally starts in the fall, and a no-deal Brexit would take effect on Halloween if a deal isn't struck and the EU doesn't offer an extension.

Of note: The U.K.'s Parliament has passed a law that would require Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension from the EU if he is unable to strike a Brexit deal. Johnson, however, has said that he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than delay Brexit, and his comments in recent weeks have some speculating that the government might try to exploit a loophole to leave on Oct. 31 in defiance of Parliament.

What to watch: Most of the U.K.'s vaccine shipments for this flu season are set to arrive by the end of the month.

Go deeper: Northern Ireland's Brexit balancing act

Go deeper