» Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Flu vaccinations

Asked to clarify the figures regarding flu vaccinations that the figures rather than being 11 million at risk were more like 14 ½ million, the PMOS gave some statistics to journalists. Last year, 13 million flu jabs were ordered, of which 11.7 million were used, i.e. there were 1.3 million that were not used. On top of that, this year, we had ordered an additional 1 million, (a 25 per cent increase in total), because of our anticipation that there would be more take-up. Therefore, in total, we had over 14 million available. As things stood, because of the increased awareness, partly because of the fact we had one of the most successful vaccine systems in Europe, along with the media stories on bird flu, meant that we had a 2 million increase in the take-up. Clearly, therefore, the Department of Health (DH) were now looking actively at the figures, and they were trying to put together a way where those practices which were having problems could get additional jabs from reserves that had not run out, but also from practices where there was a surplus. The PMOS said we were also trying to get from manufacturers an additional 200,000 jabs by December.

Asked how the figure could be 25 per cent, the PMOS explained that if 1.3 million that we did not use last year, plus the 1 million extra that we ordered this year, that came to 25 per cent.

Asked if it was right, however, that the Health Secretary added extra people to the "at risk" category that was not taken account of when she came to the preparation of this year’s batch, the PMOS said there was certainly a additional element to the order this year. On top of that, more organisations had decided to give vaccinations to essential workers. The effect of all of this was that this country was going to be better prepared for flu that ever before, but it had caused problems in certain areas and we had to deal with those.

Asked again about the 11 million figure, as it should really have been including an extra 3.5 million at risk added by the Health Secretary in the summer, the PMOS replied that there were 3 millions doses available for "occupational use" (carers and private practice), but what the PMOS said yesterday remained the case: overall, we ordered 14 million vaccines which was a substantial increase from what had been ordered and also used the year before.

Asked if a company decided to give its employees a vaccination, did that stock come from the national stock, the PMOS said that the way in which the national stock was ordered was that GPs, manufacturers and the DH all produced as estimate of how much was needed. This year, they decided to increase that by an additional million and retained the order for the 1.3 million that was not used last year. Clearly, demand appeared to outstrip that.

Asked for the NHS figures, and that there were more relevant as it was a Government department, the PMOS replied that last year, fewer people took up the vaccinations that we had planned for. This year, it seemed to be more.

Asked if was ok to use last year’s vaccinations this year, the PMOS replied no, it had to be reordered. The PMOS explained that 1.3 million were not used last year, but a new stock had to be ordered to replace it, including the 1.3 million. 14.6 million vaccinations in total had been ordered this year. The PMOS advised journalists to speak to the DH for further figures.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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