Flu vaccines are 'still available' for pharmacies to source despite reports of shortages, according to the the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

The negotiator today (15 January) confirmed that ‘flu vaccinations are still available within the pharmacy wholesaler market, so pharmacies needing vaccinations should still be able to source them’.

Two realities?

Alastair Buxton, PSNC director of NHS services, said: ‘As we reach the end of the traditional period for vaccinating people against flu, it would be normal for community pharmacies to be running stocks down as part of their stock management systems.

‘While stock is clearly not as plentiful as it was at the start of the season, supplies are available within the pharmacy wholesale market, and with community pharmacies often receiving two deliveries of medicines per day from wholesalers, most should be able to restock quickly if needed.’

But some reported on Twitter that many pharmacists have run out of flu jabs.



High levels of flu

Latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that there has been a 78% increase in the number of GP consultation for flu-like illness, with hospitalisation levels 2.5 times higher than those at the same time last year.

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, said that 'data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospital with flu'.

He said: ‘We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia. The A(H3N2) strain particularly affects older, more vulnerable age groups.

‘We encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their offer of the flu vaccine – it is not too late.

‘People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu. Avoid having unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu.’

The flu vaccination service runs until March.