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Swine flu jabs to plug vaccine gaps

Leftovers from last year's swine flu jab are to be brought in as the flu virus tightens its grip on the country and vaccine supplies dwindle, it has emerged.

The move comes as the death toll from the virus continues to rise, with latest figures adding another 11 people and taking the total to 50 since the start of October.

The government said there had been a "mismatch" regarding the vaccine - with some regions having plenty and others lacking.

But it claimed that current supplies of seasonal flu vaccine should be enough to meet the demand of at-risk patients in England.

Angry patients wanting to be vaccinated have reported being turned away from GP surgeries while some doctors say they have run out.

But GPs who order the vaccine based on estimates from previous years, are adamant they have not under-ordered.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the interim chief medical officer for England, said leftover stocks of last year's swine flu vaccine would be made available to surgeries that have run out of seasonal flu vaccine.

Some 12.7 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline's Pandemrix swine flu vaccine are still held centrally by the government.

Prof Davies said: "We are hearing some stories of the (seasonal flu) vaccine being in one place and the patient being somewhere else.

"The message to the public is if they need the vaccine because they are in an at-risk group, they should come forward because we have it in the system."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

NHS seasonal flu