GP practices had "more than enough time" to place their orders for the new flu vaccine over 65, NHS England has said.
Because practices and pharmacies still need to reverse patients due to problems that secure the stock of the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV), NHS England has suggested that healthcare providers should blame Daily Mail.
The paper reported this weekend that NHS England criticized doctors and pharmacists for failing to act quickly enough to change stocks when guidance suggested that elderly patients would receive the new type of vaccine before the winter flu season.
As previously reported by Pulse, practices have had to delay vaccination of patients or refer them to pharmacists due to problems with the safety of influenza vaccine stocks.
The government also had to temporarily suspend legislation on medical movements to allow for the exchange of vaccine stocks.
Doctors just told in January that they would order another vaccine for the 65's, at a time when most routines would have placed their orders. They were given until the end of March to place their new orders with the manufacturer Sequiris.
However, Seqirus delivers only the aTIV vaccine in a phase process, with 40% delivered in September, 20% in October and 40% in November, with GP warnings prior to the vaccination period that they should expire between rates.
At the same time, UK's main supplier of QIV, Sanofi Pasteur, was also affected by manufacturing issues, including packaging problems, which delayed deliveries of vaccine doctors give 18-64 year olds.
But NHS England told us record: Doctors and pharmacists had more than enough time to order the vaccine and announced in March that they have a crucial role to explain to patients that there are enough vaccine deliveries and when flu clinics will run.
"Seqirus has confirmed that all orders for over 65 people will be delivered by the end of next week so that anyone who needs the vaccine will be protected before December when the flu season usually hits."
BMA has called this year's influenza vaccine mode a "nightmare for general practitioners" and asked NHS England to ensure that the problems do not return during the next flu season.
Commenting on the latest developments, GP Specialist Dr Richard Vautrey said: "Even with internships providing information to their elderly patients about phase delivery of flu vaccines this year, which means 40% if deliveries have not yet been delivered to many practices, it is no surprise that so many Patients who are accustomed to influenza vaccine early in the fall are still worried.
"Instead of unjustifiably criticizing practices and pharmacists, NHS England should support them on the front line and increase the information they provide to patients directly."
Dr Robert Morley, Executive Secretary of the Birmingham LMC, said: "It's an absolute shame, but also quite typical that NHS England once again blames the GPs for another problem with their own manufacturing."
Both Seqirus and NHS England said earlier that there had been a significant increase in the demand for drug and drug versus vaccines compared with previous years and that it was "as fast as possible to respond."
However, official data from Public Health England has shown that the number of patients over 65 years of age who received vaccine has significantly reduced this flu season compared to last year, among the falling levels of uptake among all risk groups.
At the same time, GPs in Scotland must limit the use of aTIV to the 75's after the government failed to secure enough stock of the vaccine.