7 September 2021
Seqirus, the NHS’s biggest flu vaccines provider, has warned that it cannot deliver supplies for up to two weeks due to “unforeseen road freight challenges”.
GP practices are now being asked not to book any clinics until they have received confirmation from Seqirus a week prior to delivery. They are being forced to cancel hundreds of flu vaccine appointments as delivery delays are up to two weeks.
A Seqirus email to GPs said: “We realise that this unfortunate change could require you to reschedule planned influenza vaccination clinics and would like to reassure you that we are working hard to allow you to plan with certainty.”
A Seqirus spokesperson said the notice was sent out to allow GPs to reschedule their flu vaccination clinics “whilst we resolve the delay which is related to a range of unexpected logistical challenges including transportation difficulties.”
Royal College of General Practitioners Vice-chair Dr Gary Howsam said that with over 36 million people eligible for the flu vaccine on the NHS this year, GPs needed the supply chain to run like clockwork. He stressed: “It is essential that as many people as possible in at-risk groups get their vaccination as early into the flu season as possible. A delay of even a couple of weeks is going to have a big impact on practices and their patients.”
British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee Chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the delay was likely to affect a significant proportion of practices and have a serious impact on both practice workloads and patients.
He said: “Many practices will have spent the last few days and weeks meticulously planning for their flu vaccination programme, inviting and booking patients in for their jabs, only now to have to contact them all again to cancel or reschedule appointments. This causes a huge increase in staff’s already unsustainable workloads, and inconvenience and unneeded anxiety for patients who will be keen to be protected ahead of winter.”
The BMA has called for the Government to hold a Cobra meeting to address flu vaccine delays and blood test tube shortages.