The UK government has warned that a shortage in flu vaccines will mean a delay for many people. Doctors have been asked to give preference to pensioners and people with heart problems this autumn when the annual flu shots are meant to be taken.
However the government has assured people that a shortage of jabs was unlikely to result in an epidemic. The Department of Health said manufacturers were facing some problems in making one of the vaccine virus strains that are a part of this season's jabs.
"This means that although the Department of Health has reserved more vaccine for the UK for 2006/7, some supplies of flu vaccine will be distributed later than usual," a DOH spokesman said. It is estimated that around 15.2 million vaccines will be needed.
Dr David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health said that people needed to be aware of two things. "The first is the primary care and that is 'you need to be aware there may be a delay in your vaccinations coming and we want you to use your patient registrar to match the priority patients against you supplies,' he explained. "The second message is to the public and that is 'we are hopeful that all of the vaccines will come but you should wait until you are alerted by your practice that they have the vaccination for you'.