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Flu vaccine jab running low in York
SOME of York’s leading pharmacies and surgeries have run out of flu vaccine – as York Hospital revealed it is opening a dedicated “flu ward” to deal with growing numbers of sick patients.
Pharmacists and GPs are struggling to get fresh supplies of vaccines to meet soaring demand. Vulnerable patients at one surgery who want the jab have been put on a waiting list until stocks arrive.
York Hospital revealed it was currently treating 15 confirmed and another 15 suspected flu cases, and is now planning to reopen a 19-bed ward to deal specifically with a majority of such patients.
Mike Proctor, deputy chief executive for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the proposed changes at the former ward 27 – currently used as an area to prepare patients for elective surgery – was one of a number of measures being taken to ensure there was enough in-patient bed capacity and staff to care for patients safely and effectively.
“We anticipate that this measure will alleviate the current pressures felt in the hospital,” he said.
Jim Downing, a pharmacist based at ASDA, Monks Cross, said his vaccine supplies had run out and he was currently unable to obtain more.
He said because GP surgeries had been unable to replenish stocks from their usual wholesalers, doctors had been giving patients prescriptions to get the vaccine from a pharmacy.
Patients were now ringing around, trying to find a pharmacist who had any left. “We must have had about 200 phone calls,” he said.
Dana Homer, practice manager at Jorvik Medical Practice, which has surgeries in South Bank and Stonebow, said it had run out of vaccine, but she anticipated this would only be a temporary problem.
She said an order had been placed with the surgery’s supplier, which had indicated stocks would be imported from Holland and should be sent to the surgery “imminently”, although that would not be this week.
In the meantime, the names of vulnerable patients who needed the vaccine, such as pregnant women, were being collected so they could be invited to a special vaccination clinic when supplies arrived.
She said there were 31 people on the waiting list at present.
Julie Lund, practice manager at Elvington Medical Practice, said it had only “one or two” vaccines left, which had already been allocated to identified vulnerable patients, and there was the potential for some more stocks to arrive next week.
However, Martin Eades, business manager at Priory Medical Group, which has six surgeries across York, said it had “reasonable” stocks left for use by vulnerable patients.
Fishergate Pharmacy in Fulford Road and Badger Hill Pharmacy in Yarburgh Way also said they had no vaccines in stock, although Boots in Coney Street told customers they had vaccines available.
NHS North Yorkshire and York said some GP practices in North Yorkshire and York were reporting low levels of vaccine in stock, although it only had responses from about 30 per cent so far, so did not have a conclusive picture. “We are working on a solution for those with low levels of stock in our area,” said a spokesman.
A Department of Health spokesman said it was carrying out a stock take to ensure vaccine was distributed to where it was most needed.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the interim chief medical officer for England, said she was writing to doctors to say the Government would be releasing leftover stocks of last year’s swine flu vaccine for those GP surgeries which have run out of seasonal flu vaccine.
Some 12.7 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix swine flu vaccine are still held centrally by the Government. She said primary care trusts could order stocks on behalf of GPs.