Vaccine Shortage Lowers Jab Rate

A shortage of flu vaccine triggered a drop in people getting vaccinated, according to new NHS statistics. By the end of November, 54% of over-65s had received the flu jag compared to 70% last year. The figures showed that less than a third of those in younger at-risk groups had received the vaccination.

However, doctors said Scotland had received the remainder of its vaccine order last week and the majority had now been given to patients.

The news comes as Scotland’s chief medical officer issued a reminder to elderly and vulnerable people to stock up on prescriptions, register for the free flu jab and wrap up warm over the festive period.

As most GP practices will be closed for two four-day periods during Christmas and New Year, Dr Harry Burns advised that prescriptions for any repeat medication are collected in time. He said: “Flu has not really struck yet this year so it’s not too late to get vaccinated against it.

“Anyone who is 65 or over, or in an at-risk group, should contact their GP practice to get an appointment for their free flu jab. Flu can have serious consequences, possibly resulting in a stay in hospital. Taking the vaccine will offer much better protection.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland also urged patients over 65 and those at risk to make an appointment with their GP. BMA Scotland chair Dr Dean Marshall said:

“Most GP practices should now have a good idea when they will have enough vaccine available to immunise their elderly and at risk patients. It is important for these groups of patients to protect themselves from flu.”