Fears over flu jab delaySome vulnerable patients may have to wait for jab

02 October 2006

A syringe

Fears are growing that some vulnerable patients may have to wait for their annual flu jab after the government said stocks would arrive late.

The injection is usually given to high-risk groups first, including those aged over 65, people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes.

But a manufacturing problem means that some GP surgeries will have to wait for their deliveries.

It’s estimated that GP surgeries will have received more than 9 million doses by the end of October, and a total of 13 million doses by the end of November. The full delivery of 15.2 million doses should be completed by the end of December.

Flu outbreak

Dr David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the , said the government could not give assurances that everybody who needed a vaccine would get one in October.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said surgeries faced a challenge to immunise everybody and asked patients to wait to hear from their doctor rather than pick up the phone.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: ‘Late delivery of vaccines means immunisation clinics will, in many areas, start later than normal.

‘It will be quite a challenge for surgeries to immunise all their at-risk patients before the winter flu season sets in.

‘For some it may be impossible and we will have to hope for a late onset of the annual flu outbreak. There certainly won't be spare supplies to provide jabs for those not in the at-risk groups.’

'Lives may be put risk'

Dr Lorna Layward, Research Manager at Help the Aged, said it was ‘extremely worrying’ that at-risk groups may not be able to get their jab early.

‘If an older person develops flu before they can get their jabs, the consequences could be potentially life-threatening. The government needs to act urgently to ensure that the most vulnerable people get their vaccinations early in order to prevent unnecessary deaths.’

Morrisons

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Morrisons has announced that it's going to offer flu jabs in certain of its pharmacies in November.

The jabs will be done at the pharmacies by registered nursers. To book a jab, you need to make an appointment at a Morrisons pharmacy.