Monmouth Assembly Member Nick Ramsay has urged the Welsh Government to alleviate concerns about the availability of the flu vaccine following a number of complaints from constituents.
Mr Ramsay asked the Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething AM, for an update on the availability of the vaccine and highlighted a constituency case during a business statement in the Chamber last week.
“Since then I’ve been inundated by more e-mails from people who’ve been unable to access the vaccine,” said Mr Ramsay, “one only yesterday from a patient at the Castle Gate practice in Monmouth whose husband is 75 and was told that because they are now prioritising for the over-75s, the vaccine wouldn't yet be available for him and to come back later when some arrives.
“I understand from Age Cymru that they've identified an issue that, early on in this process, some practices and community pharmacies underestimated the amount of vaccine they might need and so not enough was in the system to be provided, and they're working on that.
“Although I understand that there are going to be vaccines arriving, hopefully before the end of November, that hasn't been necessarily best communicated to patients, and many of them have been very concerned. So, hopefully this can be dealt with better in future.”
Responding to Mr Ramsay, the Leader of the House, Julie James AM, re-iterated the Health Secretary’s statement that for winter 2018-19, a flu vaccine specifically designed for older people had been licensed in the UK.
She said: “The advice from the UK's expert panel on immunisation—the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation—is that this adjuvanted vaccine is expected to be more clinically effective in people aged 65 years or over compared with the other flu vaccines that are available, and that it is the only flu vaccine that is likely to be effective in people aged 75 and older.
“There is not a shortage of flu vaccines for over-65s. All orders submitted by GPs and pharmacists in Wales will be met. The delivery is phased due to demand. The manufacturer has confirmed that all orders will be delivered before the end of November. “