Older people are being urged to get their flu jab before the end of the month. A leading charity for older people says leaving the EU without a deal on 31st October could lead to delays in people getting their flu jabs.
Age Scotland is warning of an “increased risk of avoidable excess deaths” this winter if supplies are disrupted and there is a serious outbreak.
Although the UK Government has plans to stockpile key medicines, the flu vaccine is harder to store because it needs to be refrigerated.
Meanwhile, one manufacturer, Sanofi, is currently reporting delays due to a manufacturing problem in France.
Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan says he has “serious concerns” about the situation:
“It’s really important that older people get the life-saving flu vaccine as we head into winter, particularly if they have underlying health conditions which could be exacerbated if they were to contract the flu.
“It’s quick, safe and prevents hundreds of deaths and thousands of GP and hospital hours each year and Brexit shouldn’t be a barrier.”
NHS Scotland’s flu programme kicked off last week, encouraging people in at-risk groups to ‘trust the facts’ and get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the charity is echoing calls for the UK Government to share its Brexit plans from Scottish ministers.
Age Scotland says it wants “urgent reassurances” that people will still be able to access key medicines if the UK leaves without a deal.
Mr Sloan added: “Age Scotland has tried repeatedly to meet with the Secretary of State for Scotland but have only heard radio silence.
“Any delay in giving vulnerable patients this vaccination at the start of flu season is wholly unacceptable.”