Local flu vaccine shortages revealed
The government has admitted some parts of the country were suffering shortages of flu vaccines as it prepared to reveal the latest death toll from the winter outbreak.
Ministers have urged flu vaccine manufacturers to check their European stocks, which could be brought in to help bolster supplies across the UK.
So far, 39 people have succumbed since the start of this season’s outbreak in October.
Suppliers have been asked to contact their factories in Europe for a count of UK-licensed vaccines after the government admitted it was considering bringing in supplies.
There is no central stockpile of seasonal flu vaccines, which are ordered every year by GPs and delivered to surgeries.
After reports of patients being unable to get jabs from their GP the Department of Health (DH) issued a statement insisting there was “no national shortage” but admitted some areas were experiencing “local supply issues”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said there were “no supply issues” in Scotland, with more than a million doses distributed to GP surgeries and pharmacies, with an “additional stockpile” available if needed.
Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which manufactures some of the jabs, said it had been asked by the DH about the number of available doses in the UK and the number of UK-licensed doses which could be brought into the UK.
It has also been asked for a count of the number of other (non-UK labelled) doses it has in Europe, which could be brought in subject to regulatory issues.
Millions of doses of seasonal flu vaccine are ordered by GPs in England every year.
According to the UK Vaccine Industry Group, 14.7 million doses have been delivered across the UK, with 4% of those stocks going to private companies.
The DH hopes local supply issues can be resolved by surgeries with surplus vaccine offering it to others suffering shortages.