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GP surgeries in Suffolk facing major shortfall of pneumonia vaccines this winter



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Suffolk GP surgeries are receiving just one sixth of the pneumonia vaccines they need, it has emerged.

Supply of flu and pneumonia jabs were questioned at Suffolk’s health scrutiny committee in July, in which it surfaced that the region could be short of up to 400,000 flu vaccines this winter.

But supply issues with the vaccines have meant that Suffolk GP surgeries are not getting the numbers they are requesting.

Pneumococcal vaccines are vaccines against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. Their use can prevent some cases of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: conjugate vaccines and polysaccharide vaccines. They are given either by injection into a muscle or just under the skin.. (42301547)
Pneumococcal vaccines are vaccines against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. Their use can prevent some cases of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: conjugate vaccines and polysaccharide vaccines. They are given either by injection into a muscle or just under the skin.. (42301547)

Margaret Marks, who sits on the health scrutiny board, said: “I wrote to the CCG and asked for clarity and have been informed that already there are insufficient stocks to fulfil the orders – if 30 are requested, five are being delivered.

“This is not only extremely worrying for patients, but also forms part of the Care Quality Commission inspection requirement to have the vaccinations up to date.

“It feels very much that right and left hand work in opposition and this creates a poor public perception of the work of our local GP surgeries.

“There are many patients over 65 who still await a pneumonia vaccination – again, these are made in very small batches and allocation is inadequate to meet demand.”

Unlike flu vaccines, the pneumonia inoculation only needs a single lifetime jab and is prioritised for those aged 65 and over or those in at risk categories.

The Department for Health said there are two different vaccines for pneumonia – one for children and one for adults.

The children’s vaccine does not have supply issues, but the adult vaccine, called Pneumovax 23 (PPV23), has been an issue for a number of years.

Clinical commissioning groups are not involved in procuring the vaccine, with GPs sourcing it directly from a wholesaler.

Dr Nick Rayner, executive chairman at Suffolk Primary Care, said the current position was understood to be that the vaccine was available to order, but availability “comes and goes throughout the year”.

He said: “Public Health England and the Royal College of GPs have previously advised ordering when available and spreading out vaccinations throughout the year.

“However, there have been prolonged periods where none are available to order and lists of eligible patients need to be kept to call in when available, which is leading to inconvenience and some patients going unprotected for some time.”

There are also fears that, because of the coronavirus pandemic, more people may be requesting jabs this year.