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Government stockpiles flu jabs

An extra 2 million jabs ordered in time for winter

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 23 September 2011

An extra two million flu jabs have been ordered this year to allow for a contingency supply in case of a shortages.

Last year 14.7 million shots were ordered but for this winter the figure is 16.7 million with 400,000 doses kept in reserve.

The Department of Health purchased the central reserve of flu jabs and antiviral drugs for England to avoid the problems which occurred last year where local stocks run dry and there were reports of older jabs being used to fill the gap.

The Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Dame Sally Davies said the contingency supply would be used to ‘smooth things out’, while Professor David Salisbury, the government’s director of immunisation, described the measure as ‘an insurance policy’.

'We need to be prepared against all eventualities,' he said. 'It might not be used; we hope it isn't used. We put in the order as a contingency.'

For the second year running there will be no advertising campaign in England unlike in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Dame Sally said the DOH believes patients listen most to health professionals, leaving GPs and other health workers as best placed to put the message across.

However, bags of medicine from pharmacists will carry a message encouraging people to have the jab.

CMO Dame Sally has also revealed plans to change the regulations over the prescribing of antivirals. When given the go-ahead, GPs will be able to prescribe Tamiflu and Relenza to patients that they fear may suffer from flu complications, even if they are not in an offical at-risk group.

Patients in at-risk groups will be able to get their flu vaccines from October 3rd.

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