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It's almost flu season, which means that thousands of people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly or the inform are due their flu jabs. However, due to difficulties with one of the UK's top suppliers of flu jabs, many of those vulnerable to the adverse effects of flu will have to wait up to a month before they can be vaccinated.
The company Crucell, based in the Netherlands supply nearly 10% of the UK's flu jabs, stopped shipment after concerning test results on a particular batch of vaccines. Other batches are currently undergoing tests to verify whether they are safe or not and more information on the outcome should be available on Monday.
For many people influenza isn't life threatening, but people over 65, children, pregnant women, people with immune impairing conditions and respiratory conditions tend to be at an increased risk of complications. These people are generally recommended a flu vaccine, especially during times when a flu pandemic is particularly potent.
It's currently advised that children from the ages of two and 17 get vaccinated, however in parts of the country thousands of appointments have already been cancelled. Development on a vaccine administered with the help of a nasal spray is currently underway, however will most likely only be available in 2014.
This is not the first time this year that the NHS has reported shortages such as these, which has meant that some people may have needed to find alternative methods of flu prophylaxes and treatment such as Tamiflu. Although there are fears that the delay in vaccinations is placing the life of vulnerable patient’s at risk, the Department of Health have recommended the use of alternative suppliers for flu vaccines.