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Bid to reassure public over flu jab delay as man in his 80s is told he must wait a month

 

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A leading GP has assured older people that they will receive their flu jabs in time, despite some reports of delays. (stock picture)

A leading GP has assured older people that they will receive their flu jabs in time, despite some reports of delays. (stock picture)

PA Archive/PA Images

A leading GP has assured older people that they will receive their flu jabs in time, despite some reports of delays. (stock picture)

A leading GP has assured older people that they will receive their flu jabs in time, despite some reports of delays.

A number of readers have told the Belfast Telegraph that they have been unable to get vaccinated due to supply issues in medical practices.

When pressed again yesterday, the Public Health Agency insisted that there was no delay and repeated assurances that the final batch of 90,000 Fluad doses will arrive this month.

One man, who is in his 80s, has been told that he must wait until December 4 for his jab at the Regency Medical Centre, Newtownards.

When another 74-year-old man called into his local health clinic in Eglinton last week about his flu jab, there were none left.

"I was told that hopefully they would get more in November and they would let me know when they would be available but so far, no word," he said.

A 73-year-old woman, who is a patient of Lisburn Health Centre, said: "So far we have not been given our flu injection.

"We know of a family where one person got theirs while the other was told there wasn't enough and it would be November before more supplies of vaccine would be available."

Dr George O'Neill has acknowledged that there are some supply problems with the injections, but says older people should not to be alarmed by the delay.

"I think every GP practice could do with more supplies but older people should be reassured that it's down to a European-wide supply problem which sometimes happens. The most appropriate vaccine has to be identified and while this was done some months ago, it may have had to be modified if the flu virus changes," he said.

"I appreciate that elderly people may be anxious but it's not a disaster." Dr O'Neill said he anticipated most people would have the injection by the end of this month, before the flu season begins.

The Public Health Agency confirmed that vaccination has been taking place as planned in a phased manner since September.

"To date 138,000 doses of Fluad have been received and the majority of these will have already been used to vaccinate eligible individuals," it said.

"There is no delay. There is no shortage. Everyone who is eligible for the vaccine will receive it in time to get maximum protection against flu this winter."

However, Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton said the response from the PHA was "far from good enough".

"This is unacceptable when there is clearly a widespread supply problem throughout Northern Ireland and we need to know why this has happened," she said.

Gordons Chemist has confirmed that it is witnessing a significant uptake in customers paying for the private vaccination service, costing £12.99.

The chemist chain said that around 660 customers have paid for flu injections since September.

Boots Pharmacy has confirmed that there is a "temporary shortage of stock" in some areas but expects to be fully available by the end of next week.

Belfast Telegraph