Britain faces flu vaccine shortage

Jan. 9, 2011 at 9:40 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- British doctors say swine flu shots left from the 2009 pandemic won't protect the elderly from another form of flu that is rising sharply.

More than 12 million doses of swine flu vaccine from 2009 will be released Monday in a bid to combat local shortages of this year's vaccine, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

But influenza experts said the old vaccines wouldn't protect the elderly, who are at a greater risk from another strain of flu -- type B -- that is now rising sharply.

Health experts said type B flu cases have reached "substantial" numbers in London. Lab reports show it is more common than swine flu across central and southern England.

The number of type B cases is almost double the rate of swine flu in recent weeks and the overall influenza levels among those over 65 years of age is rising sharply, the report said.

This year's flu shot protects against both strains of flu, plus a third, called H3N2. The current shot is preferentially given to the elderly, pregnant women and people with winter and fall health conditions.

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