SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has criticised the short-sightedness of the Department for Health, after it emerged that the North is currently 200,000 flu vaccines short and will therefore be unable to cover everyone over the age of 65.
Medical professionals have also warned that this will have an impact on the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“In May of this year following the flu vaccination shortages of 2019, I received assurances from the Health Minister that the Public Health Agency had ordered the required number of influenza vaccines, which were due to arrive by August/ September.
“Now at the height of flu season, amid a pandemic when people have never been at greater risk, we have a flu vaccination programme in utter chaos. This was not unforeseen; it is an abject failure in planning- unforgivable during the most difficult time- certainly within this generation- for public health.
“The flu vaccination shortage is an issue in itself but its delay will have a domino effect, impacting on the ability to roll-out the incoming Covid-19 vaccination for the same demographic- (the vulnerable and those over the age of 65.)
“I accept that our health service is under immense pressure at the minute however what I cannot accept is the fact they have failed to heed warnings, to learn the lessons of last year’s vaccination shortages and in doing so, have put many of our most vulnerable at greater risk of illness during this fragile period.”