In Britain, Flu killed about 12,000 people last winter; the number is expected to be greater this year, due to a shortage in vaccines.
Millions of elderly and vulnerable patients are still waiting for a jab. Normally, elderly people over 65 and people with heart disease and diabetes start getting the jab in early September.
AdvertisementThe Department of Health had ordered for 15.2 million doses of the vaccine but only nine million have been delivered so far. Researchers warn that those not vaccinated by mid-November are at 70 per cent higher risk of being hospitalized by flu.
Reports on Thursday said that flu vaccine clinics had to be canceled and patients turned away from clinics because the availability of the vaccine could not meet the demand.
Latest figures reveal that only 37 per cent of the 13.2 million Britons in need of immunization had received a jab by the end of October, as reported by a newspaper.
Richard Hoey, clinical news editor for Pulse, said, 'the delays were due to problems in identifying the strains of flu that would occur this year, and producing the vaccine.'
He said: 'It's an international problem, so no one is really pinning the delay on the Government. But, part of the problem is that the Government played down the delays and then ploughed ahead with their advertising campaign'. He added, 'The flu campaign has been a nightmare so far for GPs." It meant they were getting many requests to have the jab, instead of being able to invite those most at risk. 'Some GPs have been forced to cancel clinics and turn patients away, while others have been forced to delay the start of vaccinations.'
Mr Hoey said this meant that more people were likely to die this year of flu.
He remarked : 'There is evidence that delays in vaccination can cause problems of raised mortality because it takes a while for immunity to kick in.
A survey of 1,500 GP practices in England and Wales, conducted by the medical magazine Pulse and published today, reveals a dramatic drop in the number of vaccinations. Some primary care trusts did not report any data on immunization rates for October because the numbers were so low.