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Europe call over vaccine supplies

More flu vaccine stocks could be brought in from Europe after the government admitted supplies were running out in some parts of the country.

The revelation that some areas are suffering shortages comes as ministers prepare to reveal how many people with the virus have died since the outbreak took hold in October.

Flu vaccine manufacturers have been called on to check their European stocks as supplies in some parts of the UK dwindle.

Suppliers have been asked to contact their factories in Europe for a count of UK-licensed vaccines in a move which could see stocks brought into the UK.

Current figures show that the death toll currently stands at 39.

There is no central stockpile of seasonal flu vaccines, which are ordered every year by GPs and delivered to surgeries.

After reports of patients being unable to get jabs from their GP the Department of Health (DH) issued a statement insisting there was "no national shortage" but admitted some areas were experiencing "local supply issues".

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said there were "no supply issues" in Scotland, with more than a million doses distributed to GP surgeries and pharmacies, with an "additional stockpile" available if needed.

Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which manufactures some of the jabs, said it had been asked by the DH about the number of available doses in the UK and the number of UK-licensed doses which could be brought into the UK.

It has also been asked for a count of the number of other (non-UK labelled) doses it has in Europe, which could be brought in subject to regulatory issues.

Millions of doses of seasonal flu vaccine are ordered by GPs in England every year.

According to the UK Vaccine Industry Group, 14.7 million doses have been delivered across the UK, with 4% of those stocks going to private companies.

The DH hopes local supply issues can be resolved by surgeries with surplus vaccine offering it to others suffering shortages.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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