Concern delays to flu jabs will see high influenza levels in Portsmouth this winter
CONCERNS have been raised over the potential for high levels of influenza in Portsmouth this winter following delays with flu vaccines.
Many appointments for jabs nationally have had to be rescheduled after Seqirus, the largest provider of flu vaccines to the UK, confirmed delays of up to two weeks in England and Wales.
The company blamed ‘unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays’ for the disruption.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: ‘Clearly influenza immunisation this year is really important and the reason it’s so important is because of lockdowns we’ve had very low circulating influenza levels last winter.
‘So we do know when there are low circulating influenza levels the year before, often we get high infection rates in the following year so it’s quite possible that we’ll have a high instance of influenza this year.
‘So it’s really important to get the influenza immunisation and really important to get it as soon as possible.
‘It is of concern that there are delays, but hopefully this will be corrected soon and we’ll get on in general practices, we always do.’
A shortage of HGV drivers from EU countries, who returned to the continent during the coronavirus pandemic and remained there, has been blamed for disruption in sectors of the economy in recent weeks.
GP Online reported that it had been sent a letter advising practices not to re-book appointments until they receive confirmation of a new delivery date for vaccine supplies.
The chairman of Healthwatch Portsmouth, Roger Batterbury, was worried how this would affect patients – coupled with a recent shortage of blood test tubes.
‘It is of concern to Healthwatch Portsmouth and the people of the city that there are supply chain issues and we truly hope these can be resolved quickly and satisfactorily within the one-to-two-week time frame reported today,’ he said.
‘As we are now aware of the supply delay with the flu jab, we will work tirelessly with Portsmouth’s public health team, the city's GP practices and the Clinical Commissioning Group to get this important message communicated to the public, patients and carers that this is a delay and that flu jabs will be given as they are each year..
‘It is most unfortunate that this supply issue comes amid the supply issue for blood test vials.
‘From the various health and social care meetings that Healthwatch Portsmouth sit on representing the people of the city we are aware that flu immunisation is so very important this year as we've had lockdowns which meant last winter flu levels were low which can give high flu infections the next year.
‘We know that teams in Portsmouth's GP surgeries are very resilient, and we are sure once the flu jabs are delivered the process of immunisation will begin immediately.’
Free flu vaccines will be available to more than 35 million people including all secondary school students this winter, according to the government.