HSE denies flu and pneumonia vaccine shortages even as GPs raise concerns

HSE denies flu and pneumonia vaccine shortages even as GPs raise concerns

A nurse prepares flu vaccine jabs. 

Cork GPs have highlighted a shortage of vaccines aimed at tackling pneumonia and the flu, something that the HSE has denied.

A number of GPs in Cork have told the Echo that there is low stock of Pneumovax 23, the vaccine which prevents pneumococcal infections, including pneumonia.

Bantry GP Dr Paul O’Sullivan said the shortage of Pneumovax 23 “is becoming an issue along with the shortage of flu vaccines”.

“Some colleagues have been told there will be no supply of pneumococcal vaccines until January at least,” he added.

“We still have some in stock but it is starting to appear as an issue in various GP forums in the past few days for other clinics.” 

Another GP said that people are asking for the vaccine, which is unusual, and that there is concern over the low stock of the vaccine.

The shortage of pneumonia vaccines comes amid concerns over delays in the supply of flu vaccines across Ireland.

While the HSE claims it has ordered sufficient flu vaccines, concerns have been raised that unprecedented international demand has impacted delivery times.

A drive-thru flu vaccine clinic in Cork was forced to close in recent days due to delays in receiving vaccine stock.

However, the HSE denied any shortages of either vaccine.

A spokesperson for the health service told The Echo that the HSE has procured approximately 1.4 million doses of Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) for adults and children which is over 20 percent more influenza than was used last season, as increased uptake was expected in the targeted groups.

“The HSE has also purchased 600,000 doses of Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) for children aged 2-12 years old,” she said.

“A total of 950,000 QIV and over 300,000 LAIV influenza vaccines has been delivered around the country, an increase of 10% compared to the same time last season.

“All stock has been delivered to the National Cold Chain Service,” she added.

“Since 2005, sufficient quantity of Pneumovax 23 vaccine has been provided to vaccinate all people aged 65+ years and those in eligible risk groups.

“A year’s supply of vaccines has been delivered to GPs since September 2020. There has been no change in the eligible at-risk groups for Pneumovax 23.

“Stock is available for those in eligible risk groups who have not been vaccinated before or are due their booster after five years.”

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