Britain short of flu vaccine as death toll mounts

Updated: Jan 07, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

London: Britain`s government said Friday it
had flu vaccine shortages in certain regions as it told some
hospitals to postpone operations to free up beds for a wave of
influenza patients.

The order came as the Health Protection Agency said the
total death toll from flu this season had gone up by 11 in the
past week to 50.

The Department of Health insists there is "no national
shortage" of vaccines, but admitted that some areas were
experiencing "local supply issues".

Britain has no central stockpile and vaccines are ordered
every year by doctors` surgeries.

According to the UK Vaccine Industry Group, 14.7 million
doses of flu vaccine have been delivered across Britain, which
has a population of around 62 million.

Hospitals with specialist respiratory centres providing
intensive care have been asked to cancel planned operations.

"The National Health Service continues to monitor the
situation carefully and we are taking further steps to
increase the number of beds available," said a spokeswoman for
the National Specialised Commissioning Team.

Of the 50 deaths, 45 were from swine flu, with the
remaining five from the type B strain.

Five of the cases were aged under five, with eight cases
aged five to 14.