A quarter of nasal spray vaccines ordered for children ahead of the flu season have been delayed, Public Health England (PHE) has announced. AstraZeneca said around a quarter of its batches due to arrive in November were delayed due to needing to repeat some routine tests.
Some schools will need to reschedule vaccination sessions planned for mid-November, PHE said.
It did not say how many schools or children were likely to be affected.
Children who are most at risk, such as those with asthma, should visit their GP if their school session is delayed, PHE has advised.
Laurent Abuaf, country president at AstraZeneca UK, said: “We realise how important it is to deliver a full supply of vaccine to the NHS and are doing everything possible to minimise the delay of these affected batches.
Flu jab shortage: The nasal spray for children has been delayed
“As part of our normal product release process, we need to repeat some tests before a portion of our vaccine supply can be released and delivered.
“It is paramount that all batches complete the testing process before they can be supplied, and we are working as fast as possible to achieve this.
“We are committed to working in partnership with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to support the earliest possible delivery of all the nasal spray vaccine needed for the NHS childhood seasonal flu immunisation programme.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “We are working with AstraZeneca and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that all eligible children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible.
“Children who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to flu will be prioritised by GPs first.”
The majority of the flu vaccine has already been made available to GPs and schools, PHE said.
The flu vaccine is the best form of prevention against flu.
But if you or your child has flu there are a number of ways to avoid spreading the illness.
Flu jab shortage: The nasal spray vaccine is understood to be delayed for several weeks
The NHS explains: “Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people.
“You’re more likely to give it to others in the first five days.
“Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.”
To reduce the risk of spreading flu, the health body advises people to:
- Wash their hands often with warm water and soap
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible
How do you know if you have flu?
The following symptoms are associated with the illness:
- A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- An aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- A dry cough
- A sore throat
- A headache
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
- Feeling sick and being sick
Children may also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
How to treat flu
Flu can be treated at home with rest and sleep, keeping warm, taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower temperature and treat aches and pains, and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
A pharmacist can also five treatment advice.
If you develop sudden chest pain, have difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood, call 999 or go to A&E.