FAMILY doctors in Huddersfield have started giving out the 2009 flu vaccine to overcome a shortage.

With the most recent vaccine subject to what the government called “local supply issues”, NHS Kirklees has moved to issuing Pandemrix.

That does not cover some of the newest strains, but does prevent the predominant Swine Flu H1N1 virus.

One woman told The Examiner she had problems getting the vaccine in Lindley Group Practice, but the problem is widespread and NHS Kirklees will not comment on individual practices.

Similar problems in accessing vaccinations have been reported across the country.

GPs in Kirklees have been asked to use up their surplus stocks of Pandemrix first, which were left over from the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak, and PCTs can apply for more of the drug.

The PCT says it has been quickly dispatching the Pandemrix to local doctors and GPs who are registered to order it themselves have been able to do so since January 10.

In December, Golcar’s Paul Sheldon was among a number of swine flu victims who could not access any Tamiflu.

In December he said his pharmacists and GPs had been frustrated by a seeming inability to get hold of the drug in the north.

NHS Kirklees said it had raised the issue with the emergency preparedness team at the strategic health authority, NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, who had been liaising with the Department of Health.

It put into place an interim supply of Tamiflu capsules at selected chemists while its wholesalers awaited a larger delivery.

A total of 112 people have died of flu since September, and the media coverage has led to a late surge in eligible people coming forward for the vaccine.

The decision to use up the old surplus of the swine flu vaccine was handed down to PCTs by the Department of Health.

It released PCT guidance on January 6 which read: “If you have concerns about meeting demand for vaccine from eligible individuals, particularly those aged under 65 years in the clinical risk groups, you are encouraged to work with PCT colleagues to utilise any excess stock that can be located within the PCT.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Kirklees said: “NHS Kirklees cannot comment on individual GP practices.

“The system to order supplies of Pandemrix has now gone live, which means that NHS Kirklees and GPs in the Kirklees area can order this vaccine to protect against H1N1.

“Anyone who has underlying health problems can be vaccinated.

“Individuals who are suffering from a more severe form of the disease are mainly in the clinical ‘at risk’ groups for influenza.”

The guidance from the NHS said that its scientific verdict was that it was targeting the correct sections of the community and vaccinating all under-5s was not necessary.

Who should receive the vaccine?

People of any age with chronic heart, lung (including severe asthma), diabetes and kidney problems or a lowered immune system due to treatment or disease. Those with chronic neurological disease, chronic liver disease or those who have suffered a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and people who have had a problem with their spleen, for example sickle cell disease, or have had their spleen removed.

Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy) should be vaccinated, as well as people aged 65 years and over,

people living in a residential or nursing home, or the main carer for an older or disabled person.