Public Health England says there will be delays to some batches of childhood nasal spray flu vaccine which will affect a quarter of the overall order.
Pharmaceutical supplier Astra Zeneca has warned PHE, which procures the vaccine across the UK, that there will be a delay in the delivery of some batches of Fluenz Tetra (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine – LAIV) vaccine stocks due to have arrived in November.
The delay was caused by Astra Zeneca’s routine testing process, but the company said this was not related to the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.
To “ensure the most vulnerable are protected first,” PHE has advised health professionals to to prioritise children with the greatest risk – all those under 18 years of age who are in at-risk groups, followed by younger children aged two and three.
Last month it was announced that all primary school children in England will be offered free vaccination. PHE says the latest announcement means that some schools will need to reschedule vaccination sessions planned for mid-November.
However, the majority of this year’s flu vaccine has already been released and that the children’s programme has been underway since October. The delays affect around a quarter of the overall vaccine that has been ordered.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said: “We are working with AstraZeneca and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that all eligible children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first.”
The delay does not impact on the injectable flu vaccine being delivered in GP surgeries and pharmacies.