How GPs working out of flu jabs makes you concern what may occur with the Covid-19 vaccine 

It’s been billed as the most important flu vaccination programme in historical past – the Government’s plan for everybody over the age of 50 to get the jab on the NHS this winter. The purpose is to guard 30 million weak Britons – round 10 million greater than in earlier years – in a bid to keep away from a so-called ‘twindemic’ of a foul flu season and a second wave of coronavirus.

The launch of the programme on October four was accompanied by a compelling promoting marketing campaign warning that ‘in an average year, flu kills about 11,000 people… and this isn’t a median 12 months’.

First within the queue for the jab have been these over 65, pregnant girls and people with sure pre-existing medical situations. And on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock introduced the following section – with these aged 50 to 64 to be provided a free jab from December 1.

But because the UK enters probably the most lethal quarter of the 12 months for influenza deaths, it seems the bold plan could already be faltering.

Limited provide: Doctors are ready for extra vaccines to reach. The Government plans for everybody over the age of 50 to get the flu jab on the NHS this winter 

Pharmacies and GP surgical procedures throughout the nation have been unable to get very important provides of flu vaccines since early October, a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered.

We have obtained experiences of sufferers as outdated as 87 nonetheless ready for a jab, whereas others who’re at excessive threat of extreme flu, together with these with diabetes and coronary heart illness, and people who look after disabled kids or aged relations with dementia, additionally haven’t been capable of get vaccinated. Meanwhile, housebound aged persons are being denied the jab, as residence visits have been suspended.

Last weekend, our GP columnist Dr Ellie Cannon requested readers in the event that they’d been hit by the shortages – and we have been deluged with emails and letters. Readers from throughout the nation instructed strikingly related tales, with a lot of them left terrified by warnings of the possibly lethal penalties of catching flu and Covid on the similar time.

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Teresa Elliot, 72, from Bedfordshire, who has sort 1 diabetes, stated she had been attempting to get a jab for the previous six weeks and was ‘scared to leave the house’ till she received one. Having known as her native clinic she claimed: ‘I was told to ring up again in December, as they did not have any, and they weren’t positive they might have any jabs then both.’

Carol Knowles, 63, a kind 2 diabetic and carer for her severely disabled 24-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic and blind, says neither she nor her son have been capable of finding a jab. Carol stated: ‘I have spent most Christmases in hospital on respiratory wards with my son. He is extremely vulnerable. Our GP, chemists and Tesco haven’t had any vaccines for weeks… what are we alleged to do?’

Jennine Saunders, from Pontyclun in Wales, claimed her 87-year outdated father tried ‘for weeks’ to get a vaccine and was ultimately instructed ‘not to call again’.

VAX FACT

The flu jab can not provide you with flu – it doesn’t comprise a dwell virus so it might probably’t make you unwell.

And Denise McNally, from Liverpool, stated her 85-year-old mum has been asking for a flu jab since September. ‘She is afraid to go outdoors right now. Her surgery keeps saying she’s on the listing for a go to, I’d wish to know when,’ stated Denise.

Part of the issue is confusion. More than 300 of those that wrote to us have been aged between 50 and 64 and had believed – having seen the publicity surrounding the Government’s ‘biggest ever’ vaccination plan in July – they might be eligible for the jab as quickly because the season started in September.

In late July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged: ‘Everyone should have a flu jab in the run up to this winter.’ London Mayor Sadiq Khan, 50, was pictured having the jab.

Despite the Government saying jabs for over-50s would begin in December, a variety of readers of their 50s who wrote to us stated they’d been instructed by their GP to not count on it till January.

But the problem will not be solely one among miscommunication. There have additionally been provide issues which have been, in response to insiders, ‘expected’ from the second the Government conceived its scheme.

Normally, GP surgical procedures and pharmacists buy flu jabs from medicine producers in March, to reach in September at first of flu season. But, in an unprecedented transfer, in May, Ministers approached pharmaceutical corporations on to request further inventory – a transfer described as a ‘logistical headache’ by one insider.

Sign of the times: NHS flu station in a car park at the Ascot Racecourse. Pharmacies and GP surgeries across England have been unable to get vital supplies of flu jabs since early October

Sign of the instances: NHS flu station in a parking lot on the Ascot Racecourse. Pharmacies and GP surgical procedures throughout England have been unable to get very important provides of flu jabs since early October

By the time the Government made its bid, the businesses have been preoccupied with assembly earlier orders from everywhere in the world, in response to Hugo Fry, managing director of UK-based medicine agency Sanofi, the world’s largest supplier of flu vaccines.

While Sanofi and different pharmaceutical corporations agreed to ship further inventory later within the 12 months, ‘every government in the Northern hemisphere was also ordering extra stock,’ slowing issues down additional.

Early final week, that further inventory, a million vials of Sanofi’s Flublok jab, arrived.

Other main suppliers, GlaxoSmithKline and Mylan, have additionally agreed to produce further jabs, totalling seven million doses, that are anticipated to reach by the tip of this month.

In reality, just one firm, Seqirus, was capable of present further inventory earlier, in October.

Have you had a flu jab?

We need to hear your story. Get in contact by e-mail at well being@mailonsunday.co.uk.

At the identical time, GPs and pharmacies have been met with unprecedented demand far earlier within the season, so jabs reportedly ran out in lots of areas.

The timing couldn’t be worse, as flu deaths and hospitalisations start to rise within the early autumn because the climate will get colder.

Due to the Covid pandemic and elevated social distancing, this 12 months flu charges have been remarkably low – which ought to come as some reassurance.

But in response to Office for National Statistics information, there have nonetheless been greater than 3,000 deaths attributed to flu and pneumonia since September.

There have been additional issues with the Government’s new strategy, in response to Ravi Sharma, England director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

He stated pharmacists have ‘struggled to order new stock’ due to a ‘frustrating’ delay in steerage on the way to entry it, including: ‘Guidance wasn’t issued till late October, and we expressed our considerations about this to the Government.’

When offered with the findings of our investigation, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson stated: ‘There is no national shortage of the flu vaccine and provisional data shows 72.9 per cent of over 65s having been vaccinated so far this year.

‘Our first priority has been to make sure that those most at risk of flu are vaccinated, along with health and social care workers.’

And the Royal College of General Practitioners, the skilled membership physique for GPs within the UK stated they have been ‘not aware of any supply issues’. Yet GPs talking to this newspaper instructed a unique story. 

According to Office for National Statistics data, there have still been more than 3,000 deaths attributed to flu and pneumonia since September (file photo)

According to Office for National Statistics information, there have nonetheless been greater than 3,000 deaths attributed to flu and pneumonia since September (file picture)

One observe in Wales instructed The Mail on Sunday they might not offer any extra jabs till the tip of November, even for the at-risk and aged. Another, in Birmingham, stated they have been nonetheless making their approach by the over-65s and have been ‘nowhere near ready’ to start vaccinating the 50-to-64 age group.

And readers, who continued to contact us all through the week, instructed us in regards to the chaos and confusion they’ve skilled.

David Keenan, 75, from Canvey Island, Essex, suffers from coronary illness and has three stents in his coronary heart. ‘According to the Government, I’m clinically weak,’ he wrote. ‘I contacted our GP surgery three times regarding the flu vaccine, and each time they informed me they were waiting to receive it and they would ring when that happened. So far no contact has been made. Local pharmacies say they have used the stock they had and are waiting for supplies.’

One couple, 68 and 69, from Birmingham, who requested to stay nameless, have been shielding since March attributable to underlying well being situations and have been attempting since September to get their flu jabs.

They stated: ‘We have called our GP every week only to be told they do not have the vaccine yet and don’t know when they may.

‘As a back-up we decided to approach our local pharmacy, as they offer flu jabs. They also told us they didn’t have the vaccine and didn’t know after they would.’

Readers have been left terrified by warnings of the potentially deadly consequences of catching flu and Covid at the same time (file photo)

Readers have been left terrified by warnings of the possibly lethal penalties of catching flu and Covid on the similar time (file picture) 

Many instructed us they’ve been desperately attempting to get a jab for aged dad and mom, to no avail.

Jane Sharman, from Longfield, Kent, says her father, an 86-year-old dementia affected person, ‘has not received a flu jab or letter to invite him to attend the surgery’.

In frustration, she contacted the native pharmacist to attempt to pay for a jab privately, however was instructed they have been additionally out of inventory. ‘We are still waiting,’ she added.

Amid the heightened demand, many individuals beneath the age of 65 who would in earlier years have certified for a jab on the NHS attributable to pre-existing well being situations have been instructed – wrongly – they can not have one this 12 months.

Denise Murton, 63, from Heacham in Norfolk, has coronary coronary heart illness which places her at excessive threat from flu, however has been instructed by her pharmacist she should wait till everybody over 65 has obtained one.

Similarly, in a break from the standard process for flu jabs, these unable to go away the home can not ebook residence visits.

Rita Taylor, 85, from Hedon, Yorkshire, says she has been attempting to rearrange a house go to for her 89-year-old husband, who’s motionless, for weeks. ‘Last Thursday afternoon I spent almost two hours trying to get through to the surgery on the phone. It is always a long process but that is a record for me. ‘Eventually a receptionist answered and I said I wanted to arrange a home visit for the flu injection. Her response was, “Oh we’ve completed doing these. You have to come back to the surgical procedure now.”

‘I explained that my husband cannot do that. He spent five weeks in hospital during the summer with back problems which turned out to be due to two broken vertebrae and a disintegrating spine. He cannot walk more than a few yards and is unable to bend his body enough to get into a car.

We have received reports of patients as old as 87 still waiting for a jab, while others who are at high risk of severe flu also have not been able to get vaccinated (file photo)

We have received reports of patients as old as 87 still waiting for a jab, while others who are at high risk of severe flu also have not been able to get vaccinated (file photo)

‘The receptionist said, “So that’s simply you [to have the jab] then… are you able to are available in on Saturday?” ’

Caroline Silver, whose mom turned 100 final week, stated medical doctors instructed her she must get her mom within the automotive and drive her to the surgical procedure if she wished a jab.

‘I said we couldn’t get her within the automotive, so that they put her on the district nurses’ listing. That was over a month in the past. I’d fortunately pay somebody to get her vaccinated. There appears to be nothing I can do, as there isn’t any vaccine accessible exterior the NHS both.’

But there’s some hope for the approaching months.

Thanks to the brand new inventory now arriving, Sanofi’s Hugo Fry stated he was hopeful these to this point unable to entry a jab would be capable of get one by the tip of December.

‘GPs can start taking orders for this new stock now and those orders should start to be received next week. There’s nonetheless loads of time to get a jab.’

However many aren’t so optimistic. ‘It’s been a shambles’ stated a reader from Norfolk. Another added: ‘Goodness only knows how they will cope with the Covid-19 vaccine’.

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