Ministers move to end flu jab shortage

PARTS of England are experiencing a shortage of flu vaccinations, the Government has admitted as it moved to reassure the public there is "no national shortage".

Suppliers are being asked to gather any left-over flu jabs licensed for use in the UK from factories across Europe as cases of flu continue to increase.

The Department of Health issued a statement after localised reports of patients being unable to get jabs from their GP surgery.

A spokeswoman for the Department insisted there was "no national shortage" but admitted some areas were experiencing "local supply issues".

Last week it was revealed there had been a shortage of vaccinations in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, though the local NHS trust insisted the issue was resolved.

The Department of Health said it wants surgeries with too much vaccine to offer their surplus to others suffering shortages.

A spokeswoman said: "There is no national shortage of seasonal flu vaccine. Primary care trusts are working with their GPs to ensure that local supply issues are resolved locally where possible.

"The department continues to liaise closely with strategic health authorities to ensure the NHS is managing winter pressures effectively."

According to the UK Vaccine Industry Group, 14.7 million doses have been delivered across the UK, with four per cent of the stocks going to private companies.

Shadow Health Secretary John Healey said: "The take-up of the flu jab has been down on last year, yet there are still reports of GPs running out of vaccines.

"The Health Secretary has been slow to act at every stage and now his department is playing catch up by urging vaccine suppliers to buy in more from the rest of Europe."

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it was "concerned" about the rising number of flu cases, and how it is affecting younger children.

The most recent figures on numbers of deaths, published on New Year's Eve, showed 39 people in the UK have died with flu since the start of the outbreak in October. Four were aged under five.

The Government has so far resisted calls for a national vaccination programme of young children, as was carried out last year for swine flu.

Yesterday it emerged more than 1,000 tributes have been paid on Facebook to a teenager who died of suspected swine flu.

Budding singer Olivia Rae Clee-Barnett, 17, from Wirral, Merseyside, died in hospital in the early hours of Sunday.