Primary schools to start flu vaccine sessions despite national shortages
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Primary school children in Norfolk will begin to be immunised against winter flu this week after GP surgeries and schools received stocks of vaccines despite national shortages.
This year's flu vaccination campaign will be the biggest ever, including for the first time 600,000 school children aged 10 and 11.
Children are considered "super-spreaders", liable to infect others in their family, while youngsters such as asthmatics and those with heart problems are considered to be at risk.
All children aged two to 11, as well as anyone up to the age of 17 with an underlying illness is being offered the nasal spray vaccine but supply problems have seen some GP practices and primary schools being forced to cancel sessions in recent weeks.
Norwich granddad Dick Meadows, whose grand children go to Recreation Road Infant School and Avenues Junior School, said: "I am aware from my grandchildren's schools and also from enquiring at a couple of supermarket pharmacies, Sainsbury's and Asda, that there appears to be a shortage.
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"I've also been told that doctors are prioritising the elderly, of which I have experience as being aged over 70 I have already been vaccinated."
AstraZeneca, which makes the nasal spray, has reported a hold-up on the World Health Organization telling vaccine manufacturers what strains of flu to protect against was to blame for shortages.
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However Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk said they expected no further delays to flu vaccinations for children in Norfolk.
A spokesman for North Norfolk CCG and South Norfolk CCG said: "We can confirm that there is no shortage with flu vaccinations for primary school children.
"There was a national delay in ordering the vaccination which has led to a delay in vaccination delivery. Vaccinations were due to arrive from today (October 26)."
Some 25 million people are eligible for flu vaccination, including those aged 65 and over, adults under 65 in at-risk categories, pregnant women as well as children.
Head of immunisation at Public health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said: 'We are working with Astra Zeneca and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that all eligible children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first. Vaccinations for other toddlers can also start, but some children may need to wait until later in November."