Health chiefs warn flu vaccine stocks in Gravesham are running low

PUBLISHED: 09:30 13 January 2011

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health, NHS South East Coast

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health, NHS South East Coast


Doctors say vaccinations against both swine flu and more traditional strains of the virus are running dangerously low.

Surgeries across Gravesham have been scrambling to inoculate patients most at risk from both swine flu and Influenza B but are struggling to cope with demand as the two attack very different age ranges.

Wendy Burrluck, practice manager at Pelham Road Medical Centre, said: “Our stocks are now very low. We have some on order and we are now waiting for a telephone call for a delivery date.”

The centre, which has seven doctors over two practices, has 14,000 patients on its books.

She added: “We sent out text messages to our patients who have given us mobile phone numbers at the start of the season but there was a low uptake.

“We are able to cope with the patients who have booked in, but if, for example, more than 100 people rang tomorrow we would not be able to cope. A lot of practices are probably in the same position.”

Since October 50 people have died across the UK of flu, with 45 confirmed as suffering from the H1N1 swine flu strain and 11 of those died in the last week.

Dr David Sumner is a partner at Old Road West and Mackenzie Way surgeries in Gravesend.

He said: “We still have vaccines and the majority of those on our books who are at risk have been given the vaccine. It is difficult to tell the difference between the two but if it is affecting the young seriously the chances are it is swine flu.”

He added the surgery has supplies of the 2009 Swine flu vaccine which can be used in emergency.

In December the number of cases in the south east increased from 19 in every 100,000 to 87 in every 100,000. Across the region there are fears vaccinations supplies are running short and NHS South East Coast is urging surgeries to share supplies.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health, said: “NHS South East Coast is aware that some supplies of flu vaccine are running low and we are working with the local NHS to make sure that any surplus vaccine is moved to where it’s needed. We are urging GPs across Kent, Surrey and Sussex to share vaccination with neighbouring practices where possible.”

Those at risk are entitled to free vaccinations which protect against both H1N1 and Influenza B. These include, people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, those with a serious medical condition, those in residential nursing homes, main carers for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer becomes ill and professionals directly involved in patient care. Dr Sumner advised anyone suffering with the flu to take across the counter medication, and drink a lot of fluids.

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