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GPs could lose control over flu jabs

20th January 2011

The UK’s head of immunisation has warned that GPs face losing control of managing the flu vaccine programme following supply problems in England this winter.

Vaccination1

Professor David Salisbury said the case for government taking charge of ordering and supplying the vaccines was pretty compelling after family doctors ran out of seasonal flu jabs.

Most other vaccines, such as child immunisation injections, are ordered by the Department of Health for the UK with flu one of the exceptions.

But he felt the scenario where doctors ordered the flu jabs direct from manufacturers was an “historic hangover” which needed addressing.

Professor Salisbury said: “Certainly this winter we have seen an unsatisfactory position. That is a situation that we don't want to see happen again.

“We compare that with the routine childhood immunisation programme where we have not had to suspend part of the programme because of shortage of vaccine for at least a decade.

This argues that we do need to look very carefully at whether flu vaccine supply can be done on a more dependable basis.”

He also indicated that some of the problems could have been a result of GPs giving the vaccine to those not in high risk groups.

But the British Medical Association rejected this and said handing over managing the flu vaccine campaign to the government would not work.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA's GPs' committee, said: “What we need is for an emergency stock to be held, perhaps regionally, in case doctors do run out.”

 

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