Quarter of nasal spray flu vaccines for children delayed

A quarter of the nasal spray vaccines ordered for children ahead of the flu season have been delayed, Public Health England (PHE) said.

AstraZeneca said around a quarter of its batches due to arrive in November were delayed due to needing to repeat some routine tests.

It is understood the delay will be for around several weeks.

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 said.

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.

“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.