Flu vaccine delivery delays 'of concern' to GPs

A member of the public receives a flu vaccine sat in their car at one of the new the drive-thru flu clinics at Little France, Edinburgh.
A member of the public receives a flu vaccine sat in their car at one of the new the drive-thru flu clinics at Little France, Edinburgh.
Jane Barlow
Charlie Bayliss

By Charlie Bayliss


Published: 04/09/2021

- 12:34

Delays of up to two weeks are expected due to 'unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays'

GPs have expressed concerns about delays of flu vaccine deliveries to the UK, which could see jabs delayed by a fortnight.

Appointments for many patients 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.


"Unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays” have been blamed by the company 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.

A nurse prepares flu vaccine jabs at one of the new the drive-thru flu clinics at Little France, Edinburgh.
A nurse prepares flu vaccine jabs at one of the new the drive-thru flu clinics at Little France, Edinburgh.
Jane Barlow

“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.”

An apparent exodus 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 rebook appointments until they receive confirmation of a new delivery date for vaccine supplies.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has said: “GPs are at their wits’ end, first forced to cancel blood tests because of bottle shortages and now we learn flu vaccines will be delayed. “This has been a summer of crisis for the NHS with patients paying the price.

Medical staff prepare a coronavirus vaccination at the UK's first nightclub vaccine centre which has been set up at Birmingham's oldest and largest LGBT venue, the Nightingale Club. Picture date: Saturday August 7, 2021.
Medical staff prepare a coronavirus vaccination at the UK's first nightclub vaccine centre which has been set up at Birmingham's oldest and largest LGBT venue, the Nightingale Club. Picture date: Saturday August 7, 2021.
Jacob King

“With winter coming and flu resurgence a huge risk, ministers must urgently get a grip.”

A Seqirus spokeswoman said: “Seqirus supplies influenza vaccines to all GP practices in England and Wales. “Due to unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays, we have informed all our customers of a consequent delay to their scheduled vaccine delivery by a maximum of one to two weeks.

“Seqirus is working hard to resolve the delay to allow customers to reschedule their influenza vaccination clinics.” Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association GP committee chairman, said the issue is likely to affect a “significant proportion” of practices.

He warned of a “serious impact” on practice workloads and patients. Free flu vaccines will be available to more than 35 million people including all secondary school students this winter, according to the Government.

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