A shortage of the new over-65s flu vaccine has led to many vulnerable older patients being turned away, GPs have said.
Deliveries of adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, known as aTIV, have been staggered - with doctors warning ahead of the vaccination season that they would run out between batches, GP magazine Pulse reported.
The vaccine, which has the brand name Fluad, has been recommended for patients aged over 65 this year, but a Pulse survey of 650 GPs found 68.5% said their practice had suffered a shortage. Just 20% said they had no trouble securing the vaccine.
The GPs surveyed said that it meant they were unable to vaccinate as many elderly patients as planned.
Practices have been told by NHS England that all flu vaccines will be delivered by Saturday. Around a quarter of GPs have also suffered a shortage of the quadrivalent vaccine (QIV), which is recommended for patients aged 18-64.
GP Dr Marie Williams said: “It has been a complete debacle, wasting practice and patient time.
“To add insult to injury, patients have been complaining that it’s the practice’s fault when clinics appointments have been sent our in good faith and supplies ordered in plenty of time.” British Medical Association GP committee chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: “We know there is understandable frustration among GPs and patients alike because of the disruption caused by the phased delivery of this year’s vaccine recommended for over-65s.
“Previously, many patients will have been used to receiving their vaccination on demand from their GP or pharmacist, but because of the phased delivery, this has not been possible this year. “As practices begin planning for next year, NHS England must learn lessons from the disruption seen in the past weeks.”