Vaccine warning: WHO ‘really concerned’ as syringe issues could derail Covid fight

Sajid Javid announces mandatory vaccines for frontline workers

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The United Nations (UN) health agency said there could be a shortfall of up to two billion syringes in 2022. It is a result of ambitious vaccine campaigns across the world, with billions more syringes than normal being used. Lisa Hedman, the WHO’s senior advisor on access to medicines and health products, said as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses increases, the supply of syringes needs to keep pace.

She said: “We are raising the real concern that we could have a shortage of immunisation syringes, which would, in turn, lead to serious problems, such as slowing down immunisation efforts.

“Depending on how the vaccine uptake goes, it could be a deficit of anywhere from one billion to two billion.”

More than 7.25 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, according to an reports.

That’s nearly double the number of routine vaccinations given per year – and twice the number of syringes required.

And vaccination efforts do not show any signs of slowing down as countries ramp up efforts to roll out booster shots.

Ms Hedman said one serious result of a shortage could be delays in routine vaccinations, which could have a public health impact “for years to come”.

A whole generation is reportedly set to miss out on normal childhoods vaccinations.

Shortages could also lead to the unsafe practise of reusing syringes and needles.

Ms Hedman said any constraint on syringe supply could only be worsened by export restrictions and transportation problems.

She urged countries to plan syringe needs well in advance to avoid hoarding and panic buying situations.

The expert added that “efforts are being made to reduce that risk to zero in terms of the actual number that we could be short”.

It comes after the Government made vaccines compulsory for frontline NHS staff in England.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs that he expected to set a deadline for the beginning of April to give 103,000 unvaccinated workers time to get both jabs.

He said the move would help protect patients and the NHS as a whole.

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But concerns have been raised that it could lead some workers to leave, adding to healthcare staffing issues.

More than 93 percent of NHS frontline staff have had their first dose and 90 percent are fully vaccinated, Javid said.

That is higher than the general working-age population, where about 81 percent have had both doses.

The decision came following a consultation which considered whether both the Covid and flu jabs should be compulsory.

Mr Javid said the flu vaccine would not be made mandatory.

Those with a medical reason not to have the Covid jab would be exempt, he said, as would those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients.

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