GPs in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly frustrated due to delays in the supply of flu vaccines, says RCGPNI
RCGPNI chair Dr Laurence Dorman said: “GPs across the region are incredibly disappointed and frustrated by the announcement that there are delays with the supply of the flu vaccine this year.
“GPs and their teams have worked incredibly hard in recent weeks and months to prepare for an unprecedented flu campaign. Our colleagues have set up safe clinics in church halls, community centres and car parks, providing drive-through options for vulnerable patients and delivering a significant number of vaccines to patients while adhering to public health guidance. Many of these clinics were performed on Saturdays and on weekday evenings, highlighting the dedication and flexibility of our staff.
“After such intense preparation and planning, GPs have been left exasperated due to factors that are outside of their control. We urge patients to check communications from their own GP practice as to how supply issues will impact on the delivery of planned clinics and not to be deterred from getting the vaccine this winter, when available.
“We encourage colleagues to return any surplus stock, so this can be redistributed to practices who need it.
“We understand that eligible patients who have not been protected against the flu will be worried; however, patients can be reassured that as soon as supply issues have been rectified, their practice will do everything possible to re-start vaccination programmes.
“GPs have voiced concerns about supply problems before and during their flu clinic planning stages, based on supply having been an issue in previous years. We were given assurances there would be no supply issues and so organised the flu campaign with this in mind.
“GP and their practice teams will now have to rearrange vaccination clinics, and with huge pressures facing GP services already, this is simply time we do not have to spare.
“While we are mindful of the unprecedented difficulties this pandemic has brought to bear, we urge for lessons to be learned, particularly for future mass vaccination programmes.”