Postal strike threat to swine flu vaccination programme

The success of the swine flu vaccination programme is threatened by next week's postal strike, GP leaders have warned.

Postal strike will delay patients receiving swine flu information
Postal strike will delay patients receiving swine flu information

The first tranche of the vaccine is due to be delivered to acute trusts on Wednesday, and will reach practices the following Monday. Patients in high-risk groups are the first up for vaccination.

But the GPC has warned that the postal strike will prevent practices from contacting their patients. ‘You can't invite people for vaccination if you can't get the information to them,’ said GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman.

Most practices do not have access to patients' mobile numbers. And the staff time required for a telephone outreach campaign means that ‘we can't entertain that’, he added.

Deputy GPC deputy Dr Richard Vautrey said that the public would depend on the government-run publicity campaign to know when the vaccination programme was beginning.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said that the switch to a single dose vaccine would improve compliance rates. The vaccination programme should be completed by Christmas, he said, ‘providing the supply chain holds up’.

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