Flu epidemic warning for NI amid vaccine shortages

A sick childA sick child
A sick child
A NI Health Spokesman has slammed vaccination shortages for the marked increase in flu symptoms.

SDLP Health Spokesman Mark H Durkan MLA said: "The latest influenza surveillance statistics are shocking to say the least but not surprising."

The Foyle representative added that Northern Ireland "has experienced the highest rates of flu-like symptoms; in particular symptoms in 5-14 year olds" at a rate of 41.1% per 100,000, which is "significantly higher than this time last year".

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He added: "The rise is no doubt owed to vaccination shortages and compounded by the fact that ‘flu season’ has started earlier this year.

"To put it simply public health has been put at risk as a direct consequence of failures at the hands of manufacturers."

He said that "disappointingly Trusts have been forced to delay these school clinics until early January".

"Alongside the elderly, children are among a demographic at greatest risk of flu complications," he added. "It is therefore extremely concerning that vaccinations for this group has been postponed.

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Flu has circulated earlier than usual and I have been advised by health officials that it is likely to continue until the end of March 2020.

"We are currently bordering on the high risk bracket and I worry we are on the brink of a flu epidemic if supply issues are not resolved as soon as possible.”