Flu vaccine hit by delay to latest batch delivery

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The HSE’s flu vaccine programme has been hit by yet another setback with a delay in the delivery of the latest batch of medicine.

Writing to GPs last night, the HSE’s director of public health medicine Dr Lucy Jessop said that restrictions would be put in place “due to a delay in the shipment of vaccine from the manufacturer”.

“To date, all sites will have received 75 per cent of the quantity used last season and the allowance for the third delivery will increase this to 90 per cent,” Dr Jessop said.

“Further stocks will be available for the fourth round of deliveries. By the end of the second cycle of deliveries approximately 800,000 doses of influenza vaccine will have been delivered to over 3,000 sites across the country. This is about 25 per cent more than this time last season,” she added.

While the amount of vaccine delivered to date is in excess of the totality of the shots received last year, the demand this year is set to be far greater given the threat posed by Covid-19 to the health services through the winter.

Dr Jessop said GPs, pharmacists, and nursing homes will continue to be treated in the same manner in order to ensure “an equitable distribution of influenza vaccine to all the target groups for vaccination around the country”.

“We acknowledge this flu season has seen a marked increase in demand for the vaccine early in the season,” she said, but argued that “sufficient stock” has been ordered with a view to vaccinating all at-risk groups, with those deliveries set to complete before the end of October.

The flu vaccine has been subject to several delays to date this year, issues experienced by all countries. Those delays have invariably been blamed on issues with shipment from the manufacturer.

One Cork GP told the Irish Examiner last week that the shortage in supply of the vaccine had left “every GP in Ireland roaring for more supplies”.

“We can’t run the clinics without vaccine supplies,” Dr Mike Thompson said.

Meanwhile, the HSE has launched the vaccine for the 2-12 children’s age group for the first time.

That dose is to be delivered via a nasal spray, with the HSE having purchased 600,000 doses in order to cover the cohort in its entirety.

A campaign launched simultaneously with the public health service encouraging “all parents to avail of the free vaccine for your children to protect themselves and to protect others by reducing the spread of flu”.



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