Fears over flu vaccine supply

Some local elderly people are being told they'll have to wait for vaccination against flu because of the high take-up across the country.

NHS Forth Valley is proud of its take-up rate of the vaccine, and has recently been urging people in key at-risk groups not to miss out this time around.

It also says vaccine supplies are “in line with requirements”.

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However vaccine supply is controlled at local level, and NHS Forth Valley does not have information on whether specific areas or practices are currently supplied.

Across the country an apparent rush to follow NHS Scotland advice has reportedly led to supply problems.

Community Pharmacy Scotland has said many private pharmacies have run out of the standard flu vaccine for people aged 65 to 74, and would not have fresh stock for at least another month.

It’s understood many other surgeries in different areas of Scotland have been telling patients the vaccine meant for 16 to 64-year-olds who could be at risk because of conditions such as diabetes or pregnancy won’t be available until the end of October.

One local pharmacist we asked about vaccine stocks declined to comment, but referred us to NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh.

He was unavailable for comment, but in a press statement repeated the standard advice about vaccination.

He said: “Vaccination provides the best defence against flu and I’d encourage everyone eligible to make an appointment with their GP to protect themselves, their family and colleagues this winter.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said: “GP Practices in Forth Valley received an initial supply of the flu vaccine for over 75s at the beginning of October, and a second delivery is expected early next week.

“Additional supplies will also be received by mid-November.

“Demand for the flu vaccine from under 65s has been high across Scotland, however GPs in Forth Valley are able to order supplies in line with local requirements”.

The Scottish Government has been criticised over a shortage of new “enhanced” flu vaccines, which means only over-75s will receive the advanced formula.

Meanwhile under half of health staff across the country are said to be immunised against flu.