Tenth of vaccine ready as flu campaign starts

The DoH launched its public flu vaccine campaign this week despite less than a tenth of UK vaccine orders having been delivered to GPs.

Posters and newspaper adverts with the message ‘If you knew about flu, you’d get the jab’ were distributed on Monday, despite the DoH acknowledging that only 1.2 million of the 15 million ordered doses of vaccine would be delivered by the end of the week.  

Dr David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the DoH, said: ‘Clearly we cannot give our assurance everyone will get their vaccine by October.’  

Manufacturing delays mean that only nine million doses will be delivered by the end of October, a further four million during November and the remaining two million in December, said Paul Rayner, chairman of the UK Vaccine Industry Group.  

Dr Nigel Higson, a Brighton GP with an interest in virology, said: ‘It is totally irresponsible. All they’re going to do is create unnecessary frustration and people won’t get a flu vaccine at all.’  

Rather than spend money on national campaigns, it would be better for the DoH to fund local advertisements about available flu clinics, he added.  

Berkshire GP and RCGP immunisation spokesman Dr George Kassianos said: ‘Only 1.2 million doses is very few to have a campaign calling patients in. If the DoH promotes it now, it will cause us problems.’  

Any suggestion that patients who consider themselves to be in an at-risk group should call the surgery were also criticised.  

Dr Kassianos added: ‘Patients are already knocking at the door asking for vaccine.  

‘It is absolutely impractical to ask patients to phone. They will paralyse the switchboard.’  

GPC chairman Hamish Meldrum said some practices would find it impossible to immunise all their at-risk patients before the winter flu season set in.  

‘There certainly won’t be spare supplies for those not in the at-risk groups,’ he said.  

At-risk groups  

Those aged 65 and over.  

Those aged over six months in one of the following risk groups: chronic respiratory disease, including asthma; chronic heart disease; chronic renal disease; chronic liver disease; diabetes; and immunosuppression.  

Those living in long-stay residential care homes.

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