Staff flu jabs suspended due to ‘unprecedented demand’

NHS Ayrshire and Arran looking to procure additonal supplies after being unable to cope with requests.

Staff flu jabs suspended due to ‘unprecedented demand’ Getty Images

A health board has suspended flu vaccinations for its staff due to “unprecedented demand”.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran is looking to procure additional supplies of the vaccine after being unable to cope with requests at the start of its annual winter campaign.

Sarah Leslie, human resources director at the health board, said this year’s flu vaccination programme is “more important than ever to protect population health this autumn and winter” during the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “This year there has been an unprecedented demand from staff for the flu vaccine and many staff across health and social care have engaged positively, opting to be vaccinated at the start of our campaign.

“As a result, NHS Ayrshire and Arran is currently revising our forecast for demand, and has temporarily paused some aspects of the staff vaccine programme.

“We are working closely with National Procurement to understand when additional supplies may be available in order to plan the next phase of the programme which will run until February 2021.”

Elsewhere, NHS Grampian has also vowed to resolve the issues affecting its flu vaccine programme within the next ten days.

As well as running out of vaccine at a number of centres, would-be patients also received their letters on the day or after their scheduled appointment.

The health board said it was working to overcome the issues affecting the system and offered reassurance that all those eligible will receive their flu jab.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We know NHS Scotland boards have seen increased and earlier demand this year for the vaccine from eligible groups, including health and social care staff.

“Boards are responsible for delivering the vaccine this year including managing their allocated vaccine supply in line with demand within their areas.  

“The Scottish Government has procured sufficient vaccine to vaccinate all those who have been invited to receive the seasonal flu vaccine, in line with uptake planning assumptions of 2.4 million people, and we are working closely with National Services Scotland to ensure that Boards can access this stock as required.”

Earlier this month, health secretary Jeane Freeman said technical “glitches” may occur in Scotland’s flu vaccine programme this winter as more people are expected to receive the jab.

Priority is being given to those most vulnerable from the illness and from Covid-19, with ministers and health officials hoping to avoid people being infected with both at the same time.

Anyone over 55 – along with frontline social care workers – will be offered the flu vaccination this year in a bid to protect more people during the pandemic.

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