GPs could be relieved of the responsibility of ordering vital stocks of the flu vaccine under proposals being considered by the government.
The claim by Earl Howe comes after Professor David Salisbury, the government's director of immunisation, suggested that there was a "pretty compelling" case for the ordering process to be controlled in a centralised operation.
Ministers insist there should be enough doses of the seasonal flu jab to cover England, although stocks of last year's swine flu vaccine were released to bolster supplies after the government acknowledged that some regions have too much while others are falling short.
Pressed on the issue at question time in the Lords, Lord Howe said: "Almost all vaccines, excepting seasonal flu vaccines, are procured centrally.
"Central procurement does provide a cost-effective arrangement and can take account of the variations in supply and demand.
"It also gives us the ability to track where the batches of vaccine have gone. So, we are looking at taking into the Department of Health the procurement of the seasonal flu vaccine."
"I totally agree. Each year we order our own vaccine. Our local PCT writes to all our patients urging them to get their vaccine. The phone is then ringing off the hook with patients wanting their vaccine. This usually happens every year before we have our vaccine delivered. Our staff have to put up with disgruntled patients every year. If the vaccine was procured centrally and delivered to GP surgeries then just maybe the PCTs could send reminders to our patients when we ACTUALLY have the vaccine in our fridge" - Anne St.Pier, Essex