Elderly people in Banbury are having to wait longer to protect themselves from the winter flu as GPs and pharmacies have run out of jabs.
West Bar Surgery was forced to turn some patients away at a clinic on Saturday as doctors did not have any of the new vaccine for over-65s left.
Flu lead at the surgery, Dr Gwyneth Rogers, said the story is the same for most clinicians as the deliveries for the supposedly more effective jab have been staggered to cope with demand.
“We’re not in flu season yet but if you are a vulnerable older person living on your own and you’re worried about getting the flu with no one to look after you, not getting the jab would play on your mind and we don’t want patients to be worried,” she said.
This year for the first time two different flu vaccines are available depending on whether patients are under or over 65.
NHS England has staggered the deliveries of the over-65 jab, called adjuvanted trivalent vaccine, as there is only one supplier, Seqirus.
Dr Rogers said they were made aware of this change early in the year so they made the appropriate plans and ordered what they considered to be more than enough.
But before Saturday’s clinic, only 60 per cent of the order had been received meaning they could not immunise everyone over 65 who came to be immunised.
To add to the aggravation there has been no definitive date for when the rest will be sent, only ‘sometime next week’, meaning this Saturday’s clinic has been rescheduled to November 17.
Dr Rogers said: “It would just be helpful if they told us a bit more and earlier. But other surgeries and chemists are in the same boat.”
An NHS England spokesman insisted there was no shortage of the vaccine and all clinicians were given guidance about the phased deliveries earlier in the year.
“This year people over 65 will be offered the best vaccine available anywhere in the world,” the spokesman said.
“As was announced to GPs and pharmacists some months ago, delivery of the jab is being phased and everyone who needs the vaccine will get protected before December, when the flu season usually hits.
“Seqirus has confirmed all orders for the over 65 population will be delivered by mid-November.”
Last year’s flu season saw three times as many people die in the UK as in 2016.