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‘Too early’ to talk about flu vaccine shortages, says minister

GP practices have been left scrambling to cancel vaccination appointments simply days earlier than the beginning of the UK’s largest ever flu vaccination marketing campaign final week after provider Seqirus reported ‘unexpected highway freight points’.

It suggested surgical procedures in a letter seen by GPonline to not re-book clinics till they obtain an additional replace confirming a brand new date on which they will anticipate a supply of vaccine.

However vaccines minister Mr Zahawi performed down considerations that the flu marketing campaign can be disrupted in a Home of Commons debate on 6 September – insisting that offer points will ‘not delay the general flu vaccination programme in any respect’.

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Flu vaccine marketing campaign

He additionally mentioned that the federal government was assured of having the ability to ship a COVID-19 booster programme, if beneficial by the JCVI. He admitted co-administration of the flu and COVID vaccines could possibly be a ‘problem’, however insisted can be the method ‘wherever attainable’.

Shadow well being secretary Jonathan Ashworth requested the minister what he was doing to keep away from a ‘flu disaster’ this winter after reported delays. Mr Zahawi mentioned: ‘One of many suppliers, Seqirus, has had a border concern with its Spanish fill-and-finish manufacturing unit, which it has used for a lot of, a few years. That is the primary time that it has had this concern.

‘It’s assembly the Spanish regulator to see what the difficulty is. It’s being very cautious and estimating a one- or two-week delay. This won’t delay the general flu vaccination programme in any respect…so I urge [you] to not, as a knee-jerk response, discuss flu vaccine shortages.’

Mr Zahawi added that the federal government was assured it could have the ability to ship a booster programme, and that the delays wouldn’t impression any potential booster programme. He mentioned: ‘I reassure…the Home that the NHS has all of the plans in place to ship the booster programme…as quickly as cov-boost stories, which is imminent, we can operationalise a large booster programme.’

Co-administration plans

Nonetheless, the vaccines minister advised that plans to co-administer each the flu and COVID-19 booster jabs might show tricker than first anticipated. He mentioned: ‘Wherever attainable, we are going to co-administer. The one caveat I might place on that’s that the JCVI has given us solely its interim recommendation on COVID-19…If it chooses a vaccine that requires, for instance, a 15-minute remark interval, now we have a really completely different problem in co-administration.’

A Sequris spokesperson mentioned: ‘Vaccine provides are starting to movement out throughout England and Wales and a few practices and pharmacies will have the ability to start their vaccination campaigns. Nonetheless, most prospects will see a one to two-week delay this season. We’re working by means of numerous logistical points and we are going to hold buyer knowledgeable of their supply 7 days upfront.’

RCGP vice chair Dr Gary Howsam warned {that a} delay of ‘even a few weeks’ would have a ‘large impression on practices and their sufferers’ regardless of reassurances from the vaccines minister. He mentioned: ‘Practices plan meticulously annually to ship the flu vaccination programme on a mass scale and it’s important that as many individuals as attainable in at-risk teams get their vaccination as early into the flu season as attainable.

‘A delay of even a few weeks goes to have a big effect on practices and their sufferers, particularly when GPs are already coping with the fallout brought on by the scarcity of blood take a look at bottles and the nervousness that is inflicting. Basic observe and all the NHS are depending on the graceful roll-out of the winter flu vaccination programme. It can not fail.’

Final month GPs instructed GPonline that practices have been struggling to determine find out how to ship flu and COVID-19 booster jabs this autumn amid continued uncertainty round co-administration. LMC leaders have beforehand argued that an announcement ought to have come weeks in the past to assist planning. 

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