Supplies of this year’s flu vaccine for children are likely to be delayed due to testing issues, ministers have admitted.
Scottish deputy chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith says the Scottish Government expects some batches of the Fluenz Tetra nasal spray vaccine are unlikely to arrive next month as planned.
The potential disruption is not related to Brexit but to problems with ‘routine testing’ that are ‘not related’ to safety or effectiveness.
Health leaders are being asked to prioritise two-to-five-year-olds and those with health conditions.
The Scottish Government says the problem is “completely outwith [its] control” because the UK Government is in charge of securing the vaccines.
Dr Smith said:
“We have been exploring how to best use the available stock based on evidence and clinical advice, and I have written to Health Protection Scotland and NHS Board Coordinators asking them to prioritise children with eligible health conditions and the two to five-year-old programme, similar to other parts of the UK.”
The deputy chief medical officer said vaccinations for school pupils are currently “continuing as normal” but disruption could lead to primary school sessions being “rescheduled”.
“NHS Board areas are currently working to do that,” he said, “Based on the projections we are receiving on the revised delivery schedule.
“Whilst this is unfortunate, it is completely outwith our control and we would continue to urge eligible people to be vaccinated as we know this is the best way to protect against the flu.
“This does not impact the adult flu programme.”
Health services urged people to ‘trust the facts’ and ignore ‘misinformation’ about the vaccine, as NHS Scotland’s flu vaccination campaign kicked off earlier this month.