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MSP seeks answers after flu jab programme delayed in Highlands

By Val Sweeney

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MSP David Stewart is writing to the First Minister about flu vaccine delays.
MSP David Stewart is writing to the First Minister about flu vaccine delays.

ANSWERS are being sought by the Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart following delays to the flu vaccination programme in the region.

Mr Stewart, who is also Scotland's Shadow Minister for Health, is writing to flu vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca to understand what is behind the hold-up of supplies which has hit school children in the Highlands.

NHS Highland has had to postpone primary school flu vaccination sessions due to take place this week and next because of a UK-wide delay in deliveries of the nasal spray Fluenz Tetra.

It is understood AstraZeneca needed to re-test some batches of the drug before shipping it to the UK.

In the meantime, any available supplies will be prioritised for use in pre-school children aged two to five and those school children aged five to 18 years with underlying health conditions.

Mr Stewart said it was reassuring to know health bosses were prioritising at-risk and younger children with existing dwindling supplies.

But he felt it was important to fully understand what had caused the problem and to investigate what was being done to minimise the risk of it happening again.

“Any delay to the school vaccination programme is a real worry," he said. "This could undo all the good work health boards have done over the years to persuade sceptics that vaccines are safe and important.

“I am writing to AstraZeneca because I would like to fully understand what is behind this hold-up off supplies. I will also contact the First Minister to ask what action is being taken to address this matter quickly and urgently.”

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