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Flu jabs: Don't phone us - we'll phone you

A delay in the delivery of this year's flu vaccine means that patients at risk from winter flu could help their GP practices by waiting to hear from their family doctor surgery about immunisation plans, rather than phone up the practice to inquire. This suggestion comes today (Monday 2 October) from the BMA.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "The Department of Health, England, has warned that while there will be no shortage of this year's winter flu vaccine in the long term, there will be delay in getting adequate supplies to many practices. Late delivery of vaccines means immunisation clinics will in many areas start later than normal. While most practices should get supplies in October and November, we have heard of some practices having to wait until December.

"It will be quite a challenge for surgeries to immunise all their at-risk patients before the winter flu season sets in. For some it may be impossible and we will have to hope for a late onset of the annual flu outbreak. There certainly won't be spare supplies to provide jabs for those not in the at-risk groups.

"Patients over 65 and others in at-risk groups can help avoid adding to the workload by resisting the temptation to ring up and ask when flu jabs will be ready. GPs know who their at-risk patients are and will contact them when their vaccines supplies are available.

"It really will help us to carry out the job of protecting patients from the effects of flu if patients follow the adage - don't ring us, we'll contact you."