WITH an unprecedented demand for flu jabs this season, many pharmacies and doctor's surgeries across Bradford and the whole of the country are struggling to keep up.

With a high take up, many businesses are running through flu vaccine stock supplies faster leading to some places having to delay bookings or refer customers elsewhere until a new order arrives.

Saghir Ahmed, superintendent pharmacist for Imaan Healthcare, which runs five pharmacies around Bradford, said: "There has been an increase in flu vaccine uptake. The demand has been so great because of the year we've had. People want to have as much protection as possible.

"It's been a challenge in that we set our orders in back in January. We can only hold so much flu vaccine at one time in the fridges.

"It's the same for GPs and pharmacies. It has created an environment of competition.

"People are going to be disappointed because we don't have the supply. We've had people who are in the 30s and 40s who would like to get a flu vaccine, but we can't provide it to everyone because we have to provide for people who are at risk.

"If they have both flu and Covid, the difficulties for them are hard to imagine. So we have to look after the more vulnerable."

Last Wednesday, national chain Boots that new bookings for its flu vaccination service were still paused while staff at the pharmacy chain worked to secure some additional stock.

However, one pharmacy is keeping up with the current demand

Qaisar Sheikh, co-owner and pharmacist at Rimmington's Pharmacy, on Bridge Street, said: "Seasonally we are one of the most visited pharmacies in Bradford for flu vaccinations. We try to vaccinate as many people as possible because we want to protect the most vulnerable from flu and pneumonia and those who could get Covid as well.

"We were expecting a high vaccine take up, so we overestimated our order. Last year, we ordered 1,000 vaccines but this year we've ordered 2,000. Our stock holding is quite high.

"There has been an unprecedented demand. People are worried because they don't want to get flu on top of Covid.

"The pandemic has created such a burden on the sector

"This year nationally the criteria for those who are entitled to receive flu vaccine has changed, with 50 and over now eligible.

"The government is anticipating 30 million people will be vaccinated over this winter. We've never seen numbers like that ever."

"The flu season has already started, and we're being told that new flu vaccines will be made available in November. The government usually test flu strains in August then releases the new vaccines in November.

But Public Health England has moved to reassure people that there is no shortage of vaccine as manufacturers stagger deliveries.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said: “There is no shortage of flu vaccine – enough has been ordered to vaccinate 30 million people, with the most vulnerable being protected first. It is usual for manufacturers to stagger deliveries of the vaccine.

“Every year, there is a phased roll-out and vaccinations continue throughout the autumn. Some GP practices and pharmacies may ask people to wait until they receive further deliveries.”