Flu vaccine delay is putting thousands of children at risk
‘Keep in contact with clinics’
THOUSANDS of children have not had their flu vaccine because a drug firm has failed to supply it.
All children aged between two and 11 are eligible for a free nasal spray inoculation but GP surgeries and pharmacies across the country have been unable to get hold of it.
Release of the Fluenz Tetra vaccine was delayed because of a problem with the testing process.
Some pregnant women and adults with underlying health problems have also had problems getting a flu jab this year, due to a separate issue. It means many are not yet protected against the potentially serious illness. Health bosses say children with medical conditions are being prioritised and are confident the issue will be resolved by the end of November.
But there are concerns that the delays will put people off getting the vaccination once it is available. It comes after the Daily Mail launched a campaign to boost the uptake of childhood jabs.
Trusts and GP surgeries across the country have warned patients that they are still waiting for supplies of the vaccine for young children. Both the Welsh and Scottish Government have also issued statements saying that they were aware of shortages of the drug, made by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and were working to ensure minimum disruption.
Dr Jon Roberts, of Public Health England South West, said: ‘The quality assurance test did not have a valid result so they have to repeat those tests, resulting in a slight delay.’
There are different types of flu vaccination available to patients across the UK.
Children are offered a vaccine given as a nasal spray and adults in Scotland are given either an injectable Trivalent vaccine – which covers three strains – or an injectable Quadrivalent vaccine, which covers four strains.
It is understood that some people have been unable to get the Quadrivalent jab because the WHO delayed a decision on which strains to include.
Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith said: ‘The Scottish Government is aware there is likely to be a delay in the supply of a proportion of the Fluenz Tetra children’s vaccine which is procured by Public Health England on behalf of all of the UK.
‘The school vaccination programme is currently continuing as normal. However, should there be the expected disruption to supply, it could lead to vaccinations in some primary schools being rescheduled.’
In a statement, AstraZeneca said: ‘AstraZeneca confirms there will be a delay in the planned release and delivery of a portion of our Fluenz Tetra doses in the UK for the 2019-2020 season.’
However, the company insisted that the delay was ‘not related to the product’s safety or efficacy, nor is the delay related to the potential EU-Exit’.