They are produced to the highest standards of quality by 14 ‘dedicated’ flocks located all over Germany and the Netherlands. Such high quality eggs require the highest quality standards at the farm as well, something which is tightly regulated by law and by the contractual arrangements we have with our farmers.
This geographic distribution is important as well because it means we can get the quantities we need throughout the season, even if a problem strikes one of the farms or regional areas.
And so, every morning at 6.00am, two truckloads of these eggs are delivered to the manufacturing facility. During the journey from the farm they are kept in tightly temperature-controlled circumstances (32-35°C), the same circumstances which await them during the manufacturing process. They are then stored overnight and present for ‘work’ first thing the next morning.
Innoculation, incubation, harvesting
The highly complex production cycle begins with ‘inoculation’ which is when the specific strain of flu virus is introduced into the egg. Next, the eggs are ‘incubated’ which means they are kept at a suitable temperature in order to allow the virus to multiply (this is essential to producing sufficient quantities of vaccine). Once the virus has multiplied, it is then ‘harvested’ or removed from the egg.
This rich raw material, known as flu serum, is then filtered and further processed to obtain the precise level of purity and concentration. Next, the still active flu virus is 'inactivated' and broken down to contain only inactive parts of the original virus. These inactive parts of the virus are sufficient to provoke a protective response in the human body without actually giving you the disease.
This process is then repeated for the additional strains of the virus with every step along the way involving rigorous quality testing and confirmation. The final step is to ‘pool’ or combine the strains of inactive flu virus to form the single vaccine.
Nothing has yet surpassed the egg in its ability to deliver a high quality result, in large quantities, in record time and all at an affordable price.