GP surgeries across UK tell patients that flu vaccine jabs will be delayed by up to TWO WEEKS due to crippling HGV driver shortage as experts fear it could lead to outbreak
- Experts fear the country will be hit by high flu infection rates this winter
- Flu vaccines have been postponed amid a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK
- Seqirus reported delays of up to a fortnight in delivery of the flu vaccine
GP surgeries across the UK have told patients their flu vaccinations will be delayed by up to two weeks because of a HGV driver shortage.
Experts fear the country will be hit by high flu infection rates this winter because lockdown meant levels were low last year.
Seqirus, one of the world’s largest flu vaccine companies, reported delays of up to a fortnight amid the major shortage of drivers.
Brexit and the pandemic, which have prompted many European drivers to return home and caused a backlog of tests, have been blamed.
It comes after major food companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Wetherspoon said they had been affected.
Experts fear the country will be hit by high flu infection rates this winter because lockdown meant levels were low last year (file image)
Letters and emails sent out to patients across the UK warned appointments would have to be arranged because of the issue
Letters and emails sent out to patients across the UK warned appointments would have to be arranged because of the issue.
One notice read: ‘Due to unforeseen road freight challenges we have been informed there will be a delay receiving the flu vaccine delivery.
‘As a result we will need to postpone the flu clinic appointments already booked. Please do not contact the surgery to cancel your appointment. We will contact you to rearrange.
‘We are not making any further flu clinic appointments until we have confirmation of vaccine delivery.’
The delay of flu vaccine deliveries is ‘of concern’ to GPs amid fears over high influenza levels, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. Pictured, a notice informing patients they would not be able to book a flu vaccine
The delay of flu vaccine deliveries is ‘of concern’ to GPs amid fears over high influenza levels, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.
Professor Anthony Harnden told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: ‘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.
‘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 comes after major food companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Wetherspoon said they had been affected by the driver shortfall
‘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.’
Seqirus, which supplies vaccines to all GP practices and pharmacies in England and Wales, said it was ‘working hard to resolve the delay’.
A spokesman added: ‘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.’
NHS England said patients who are affected would be contacted by their GP.
Meanwhile, LloydsPharmacy said it currently had a ‘good supply’ of vaccines and will be ready to administer them within the next couple of weeks.
A spokesperson added: ‘We have seen significant demand for flu vaccines again this year with almost 200 thousand bookings already this season, including those eligible for the free NHS flu vaccine.
‘We currently have a good supply of vaccines due and will be ready to start administering in the next couple of weeks for people who have already booked an appointment.
‘For those who have not yet booked we would encourage you to book early to secure your flu vaccine as we anticipate a busy flu season this year. Bookings for the flu vaccine can be made by visiting the LloydsPharmacy.com website.’
Earlier this week, Coca-Cola said a can shortage – particularly of Diet Coke – was being compounded by the lack of drivers. And pub chain Wetherspoon also reported it was suffering from a beer shortage.
Last month, McDonald’s was also hit by the crisis, meaning no milkshakes were available at any outlets.