British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that there could be "significant outbreaks" of the flu in coming years, emphasizing the importance of looking into the vaccine ordering process. His comments come on the news that certain areas of the U.K. are running out of the seasonal flu vaccine. And some private firms are charging up to £75 for jabs which cost just £8 other places, according to the Express.
In England and Wales, GPs order seasonal flu vaccine from the manufacturers or wholesalers more than six months in advance, based on uptake of the vaccine in previous years and guidance from the Department of Health on the "at-risk" groups they should target. This gives the manufacturers enough time to make enough vaccine, according to the Telegraph.
As InPharm reports, the government last April cut its order of GlaxoSmithKline's Pandemrix by one-third after last year's swine flu epidemic slowed. Now it will have to rely on surplus stock from that order.
While England may be facing a shortage, other parts of the U.K. seem to be faring well. According to reports, Scotland has a stockpile of roughly 40,000 flu shots and maintains no formal approach from English health officials has been made to acquire additional stock.
"We would always consider helping England in any way appropriate, while our priority has to be public health in Scotland, which is what we have planned for," a spokeswoman explained, according to the Scotsman. "Discussions have certainly taken place between officials to discuss the number of vaccines available across the UK, however no formal approach for assistance has been made by the Department of Health," she added.
Scottish officials affirmed this position to the BBC--it had "plenty" of jabs in an emergency pot and would have been willing to try to help out if asked. However, England's DoH said it had been told by officials that Scotland didn't have much to spare.
In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, health agencies have been reassuring the public that they have enough stocks.