The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee criticised comments by RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and claimed the problems lay with general practice.
On Tuesday, Dr Gerada said otherwise healthy patients should refrain from requesting the vaccine at pharmacies to ensure at-risk patients could be vaccinated first.
The committee’s chief executive Sue Sharpe said that, since pharmacies had no priority ordering rights for the vaccine, ‘it is difficult to see how blame for any short ordering could fall at their doors’.
She added: ‘Contrary to Clare Gerada’s suggestion, the problem isn’t patients going to pharmacies to obtain the vaccine; it seems to stem, in fact, from insufficient stocks within some GP surgeries.’
Ms Sharpe also implied practices should have been better prepared for what she called a ‘predictable’ surge in demand for the vaccine.
She said: ‘It should be noted that in Scotland, where community pharmacies are responsible for ordering stocks of vaccine rather than GPs, no such shortages seem to be occurring.’
Rob Darracott, chief executive of industry body Pharmacy Voice, said: ‘People who are taking responsibility for their own health by getting vaccinated outside of the NHS are not to blame for NHS vaccine supply difficulties.’
He added: ‘Pharmacies cannot be expected to order more than they think they need in case another group runs out, as the flu strains used in the vaccine change from year to year.’