Patients waiting for a flu vaccine face delays due to the lack of truck drivers.
Medical professionals are said to be concerned after appointments for many patients were postponed due to birth problems.
Seqirus, the UK’s largest influenza vaccine supplier, confirmed delays of up to two weeks in England and Wales, blaming “unforeseen challenges related to delays in road freight transport” for the disruption.
GP Online reported that he had been sent a letter asking practices not to reschedule appointments until they received confirmation of a new vaccine delivery date.
READ MORE: This Is Who Qualifies For A Free NHS Flu Shot This Winter
An apparent brain drain from EU countries of truck drivers who returned to and stayed on the continent during the coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for the upheavals in economic sectors in recent weeks. Companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Wetherspoon said they had been hit by delivery problems.
Dr. Richard Vautrey, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said the problem is likely to affect a “significant portion” of practices and warned of “serious effects” on office workloads and patients.
Free flu vaccines will be available to more than 35 million people, including all secondary school students, this winter, the government said.
A Seqirus spokeswoman said: “Seqirus delivers flu vaccines to all general practitioners in England and Wales.
“Due to unforeseen challenges in connection with delays in road freight transport, we have informed all of our customers about a resulting delay in their planned vaccine delivery by a maximum of one to two weeks. Seqirus is working hard to fix the delay so customers can postpone their influenza vaccination clinics. “
Scientists believe there could be an increase in flu infections this winter.
Professor Anthony Harnden, vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, told the BBC: “The flu vaccination this year is clearly very important and the reason it is so important is because of the lockdowns that we last winter very much had low levels of influenza.
“So we know that if the circulating influenza levels were low in the previous year, we often have high infection rates in the following year.
Check out our weekly Birmingham Politics email updates for the latest political news.