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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 13:36 GMT
No flu vaccine shortage in Wales
Needle
The flu vaccine ordering process is different in Wales
The Welsh Assembly Government has said suppliers of the flu vaccine in Wales should be able to meet all existing orders.

But it said demand will be high and further stocks are being sought.

In England, ministers have announced a shortage of vaccine and the Department of Health has urged GPs to concentrate on patients most at risk.

Doctors in Wales have been told that arrangements should be made to redistribute any spares they have.

Dr Andrew Dearden, of the British Medical Association, said: "I think we are certainly better off in Wales than perhaps in England."

He added that the reason Wales was better placed for vaccines than England was in part down to the assembly occasionally ordering vaccines in addition to those lined up by family doctors.

HIGH RISK GROUPS
People aged 65 and older
People with diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, serious heart or kidney disease
People with lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer therapy

He said: "Fortunately in Wales, because they are ordered slightly differently, the problem is nowhere near as acute here.

"In the past, GPs have ordered the ones that they think they will need, based on our patients, and sometimes the assembly has ordered or reserved another batch.

"One or two years that has worked well, the other time you may be stuck with extra ones.

Rhodri Morgan
First Minister Rhodri Morgan launching the flu jab campaign

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said it had asked family doctors to send back to the suppliers any immunisation jabs they have left over after treating the at-risk groups.

Returned vaccines can be re-distributed to other GPs whose own supplies were low.

The department of health blames the shortage in England on demand outstripping supply, most likely fuelled by public concerns about the threat of a possible bird flu pandemic.

Last month, it emerged that weekly meetings were being held to plan Wales' response should a bird flu pandemic hit Britain.

But experts have played down the prospect of the avian disease striking this year, if at all.


SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Flu jabs
22 Nov 05 |  Health
Morgan warning on flu jabs
04 Oct 04 |  Wales


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