HSE denies 600,000 doses of flu vaccine are missing

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Vivienne Clarke

The HSE’s national clinical advisor, Dr Colm Henry, has denied reports that there are any quantities of the flu vaccine missing.

It had been reported this morning that 600,000 doses of the flu vaccine could not be located.

According to the reports, a letter has been sent to doctors and pharmacists saying of the approximately 1.3 million vaccines administered to date, only 700,000 have been recorded as administered.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists have to log onto a system to explain why they have given the vaccine in order to be reimbursed.

Responding to some media reports, Dr Henry said that the HSE had held back 50,000 doses of the vaccine so they could ascertain where there were gaps.

The plan was to get doses to the priority groups, the over 65s and those with vulnerable conditions, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.


“No doses have disappeared.”

To date this winter 1.3 million doses of the vaccine have been given, which was 20 per cent up on last year, he explained.

It was normal for there to be a lag in time between when the vaccine was sent out and when it was administered.

The HSE wanted the vaccine to be administered where there was the greatest demand, he said.

GPs and pharmacies

“We are getting a mixed picture from GPs and pharmacies. We have to find out who has stock in place.”

There has been increased demand this winter with over 400,000 doses administered to the over-65s, 100,000 to children and 220,000 to those with chronic conditions, said Dr Henry.

There needed to be “clear blue water” between the campaigns for the over-65s and for the under-12s.

It was far too easy to say that it had been a mistake not to roll out the children’s nasal flu vaccine through schools.

Dr Henry said that the HSE had “ample supplies” of the flu vaccine which will help reduce the risk for all the population.

While he welcomed news of the Covid-19 vaccine, he warned that everyone “must keep their eye on the ball” and continue to practice social distancing, hand hygiene and wear masks until all the population had achieved herd immunity of 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

In a statement, the HSE said: "We have full records of the 1.3 million doses which have been distributed to date. Applications for reimbursement through PCRS have been made in relation to 700,000 doses which indicates that some of the vaccine that has been distributed has yet to be either administered and/or an application for reimbursement submitted. Therefore we intend to obtain more information prior to distributing the remaining doses of vaccine."


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