GPs have been warned to delay second doses of scheduled childhood vaccines, following shortages across England.
Every GP practice in England was sent a letter from the DoH this month stating that Movianto UK, the company responsible for the delivery of the vaccines, had made 'an error in the calculations of the allocation'.
This has resulted in some surgeries being allocated fewer doses of the vaccines Pediacel, Infanrix/IPV, Repevax and Menitorix than they should have been.
The DoH said supplies of the vaccines will be allocated to practices on a fortnightly basis. The allocation is based on previous use of the vaccines and cannot be increased, it said.
Dr George Kassianos, RCGP spokesman on immunisation and a GP in Berkshire, warned: 'It is unclear whether the correction in the supplies will actually compensate for the shortfall.'
Dr Nigel Higson, a Brighton GP and virologist, said that since the fortnightly deliveries of the vaccines had been introduced it was impossible to order extra doses.
'The priority for GPs should be to give children at least one dose of the vaccine and then delay the second dose until there are more vaccine supplies available, he said. 'The second dose can be delayed for up to three months at the most.'
It is important that GPs inform parents that they are only deferring the vaccine and that a second dose is still required, added Dr Higson.
A spokesman for the DoH said: 'An unfortunate mistake resulted in some surgeries being told that they would receive less vaccine than they should.
'However, this is not the case and the DoH is immediately writing to PCTs to let them know this.'
A spokesman for Movianto said that the correct number of vaccines would be sent out to practices this week.
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