Surgeries can meet demand for flu jab
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 January 2011
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Health bosses have taken control of contingency stocks of flu jabs in a bid to ensure the most vulnerable are vaccinated.
However, they say they are confident that there will be enough vaccine to meet demand.
The news comes as it emerged that 11 more people have died from flu across the UK, taking the total to 50. While some practices across Norfolk have run out of stocks or are running very low, health trusts have been requisitioning surplus supplies and redistributing them to those in need.
The deaths, 45 of which have been from swine flu, have been mostly among children and young adults, with five cases in the under-fives and eight cases among those aged five to 14.
The Timber Hill Health Centre, in The Mall, Norwich, has stocks for its “at risk” registered patients, but it has run out of the £9 paid-for shots it has been offering to people through its walk-in centre, with 70 to 80 customers on Wednesday alone.
Manager Donna Laws-Chapman said: “Three weeks ago I thought I would have a big stock left. But over Christmas lots of people were really ill with chest infections and flu-like symptoms.
“The big thing for us has been the impact of parents wanting children vaccinated. That’s where the demand is and we don’t usually have that many children, that many under-5s and under-13s, but this year the swine flu is hitting the younger generation and so parents want to make sure their children are safe.”
Only patients in “at risk” groups are eligible for a free NHS seasonal flu jab, including pregnant women, over-65s, carers of older and disabled people, people living in nursing homes and those with long-term conditions such as heart, breathing and immune system problems.
A doctor at the Newmarket Road Surgery in Norwich told us they had managed to borrow about 30 jabs from a neighbouring practice to enable them to vaccinate its remaining “at risk” patients who want the jab. He said: “After last year’s scare we have had to convince people that swine flu hadn’t gone away.”
Dave Kerry, flu co-ordinator at NHS Norfolk, said: “It remains the case that there is sufficient stock of seasonal flu vaccine within the county to meet current demand.
“However in line with Department of Health advice to facilitate supplies locally, NHS Norfolk has taken control of a contingency stock of vaccines.
“We are advising GP practices which are out-of-stock, and which have outstanding requests for vaccination from patients in at risk groups, that we are able to supply sufficient doses to meet their immediate demand.”
An Evening News survey of 65 medical centres across Norfolk and Suffolk found that 31 were still offering the vaccine, eight admitted they had none left, while another 26 either refused or could not confirm if they were still able to give flu jabs.
Have you got a health story for us? Call health correspondent Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email firstname.lastname@example.org