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Delays for some pensioners getting flu vaccine

Louise McDowell

Reporter:

Louise McDowell

A delay in the supply of flu vaccinations has resulted in some patients not being able to get their vaccine until later this month.

Banbridge Group Surgery informed patients yesterday morning (Monday) that patients in the 65-74 age category would not be able to get the vaccine at that day’s flu clinic.

Banbridge Group Surgery has experienced some delay over flu vaccines for a certain age group.

Rathfriland Health Centre have also had to prioritise their vaccines for those over the age of 75.

A Rathfriland Health Centre spokesperson said the fact that the vaccine has been staggered, does “make it more complicated”.

The health centre has been told that the next stage of vaccines will be in surgeries by Friday, 16 November.

There are two separate types of flu vaccines for those aged under 65 and those aged over 65. However the delay in the vaccine being given to GPs, which has been affecting the whole of Northern Ireland, has meant those aged between 65 and 74 will be among the last to receive the vaccine.

Banbridge Group Surgery said: “We have been advised by the Public Health Agency that a further supply of vaccines will be available mid-November and will recall those patients affected accordingly.

“Patients aged 75 and over and under 65 should attend the surgery as normal for their vaccination. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate your patience in this matter,”

Patients over 65 are one of the categories who are eligible for the flu vaccine as they are defined as ‘at risk’ from Influenza, commonly referred to as ‘flu’.

However elderly people over 75 will be given priority for this vaccination while children and ‘at-risk’ groups under 65 - who receive a different vaccine - will and have not been affected by delays.

Figures released earlier this year revealed that 22 people died from flu last year while the number of patients treated in intensive care units and high dependency wards more than doubled from 2016, with 119 cases hospitalised.

GPs were informed of the supply problem by the Public Health Agency (PHA) at the end of July and were told vaccines will be arriving in “three staggered deliveries”.

“This is not the preferred option but is the same across the UK and is beyond the control of Devolved Government Departments of Health and their public health authorities,” the PHA letter to GPs said.

When asked about the shortage of the vaccine for pensioners, a PHA spokeswoman confirmed it would be “staggered over the months of September, October and November due to production capacity”.

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