Lessons must be learned from flu vaccine shortages as the country faces “significant outbreaks” for years to come, Prime Minister David Cameron said today.
Some GP surgeries have had to turn away vulnerable people this week as the death toll from flu since the start of October rose to 50.
Stocks of last year’s swine flu vaccine – which does not protect against all the latest flu strains – are to be used to plug shortages in this year’s vaccination programme.
Mr Cameron – who revealed that he had not had a jab this year – denied the problems were caused by spending cuts and insisted that the Government had followed expert advice throughout.
“Doctors did order something like 14 million doses of vaccine. Because of very heavy usage there are some shortages in some places,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It is very important that we learn the lessons from this.
“One of the lessons is that it looks likely that, because of the prevalence of swine flu and other strains, we might have quite significant outbreaks in future years and we need to look at the way we order vaccinations and whether more needs to be done.
“We have followed at every turn what the joint committee (on vaccinations and immunisations) has said. It is important you listen to the experts and make sure you are trying to get the vaccine to the people who need it.”
He went on: “This is nothing to do with cuts. The NHS is not having cuts.”