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Inconsistent supply of vaccine a distribution issue

General practices are experiencing inconsistent supplies of the flu vaccine.

3 Rivers Medical clinical nurse leader Heather Besseling said they had an “ad hoc supply”' of vaccine.

“We are never sure of when we are going to get the stock that we order,” she said.

“In order to manage this and to avoid a lot of work cancelling and rebooking patients into flu clinics, we have decided to get the stock first and then open up clinics.”

Nine hundred thousand vaccines had arrived in the country before the Covid-19 outbreak and there was now a worldwide shortage, she said.

The Ministry of Health had taken over distribution of the vaccine to ensure equitable distribution after some areas received their second order before some had received their first.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay also said the issue was a distribution problem.

Dr Bernd Stoltenberg of City Medical said flu vaccines “had rushed out” before the beginning of the lockdown.

“There is certainly no delay in getting vaccinated . . . until we run out,” said Dr Stoltenberg.

The influenza vaccine was originally only available for those aged over 65, those with chronic health conditions and health workers.

The flu vaccine has been available for those aged between six months and 35 months since April 1, according to the Ministry of Health.

In line with government restrictions on GP practices, City Medical was conducting 80 or 90 percent of consultations over the phone with video consulting being trialled, said Dr Stoltenberg.

“These are odd times.”