Flu nasal spray delay could disrupt vaccine programme for young Fifers

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The early stages of the flu vaccination programme for young people in Fife is “likely” to be disrupted by a UK-wide supply issue of the nasal spray.

The Scottish Government confirmed this week that work is underway to minimise any potential disruption to the childhood flu immunisation programme caused by a delivery delay in some batches of a nasal spray flu vaccine.

The vaccines are due to arrive next month and the potential delay is due to issues relating to routine testing of Fluenz Tetra by the manufacturer and is not related to the safety or the efficancy of the vaccine.

Dona Milne, NHS Fife’s director of public health said: “A UK-wide supply issue in the flu vaccine for those aged two to 17 is likely to disrupt the early stages of the vaccination programme for young people in Fife.

“As with health boards elsewhere in the country, we will be prioritising vaccination for those aged between two and five years old, and those children with underlying health conditions who we know are at greatest risk from the flu virus.

“Our vaccine holding centre has sufficient supplies of the vaccine to cater for the aforementioned groups, however, some young people between the ages of five and 17 who are not identified as being within an ‘at risk’ group may experience a short delay.”

The delays do not have any impact on the adult flu programme, with the vaccine available to all those in the eligible groups.

Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer, 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 school vaccination programme is currently continuing as normal. However, should there be the expected disruption to supply, it could lead to vaccinations in some primary schools being rescheduled.

“NHS Board areas are currently working to do that 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.”