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DoH indecision delays vaccine launch

The Department of Health has admitted it still does not know when the pneumococcal vaccine will be introduced delivering a blow to expectations it would be added to the childhood schedule by June.

The department this week told Pulse no decision had yet been taken and could confirm only that the vaccine's introduction was still scheduled for 2006/7. But the apparent delay prompted criticism from the RCGP, which said the department should not have announced the vaccine's introduction before completing neg- otiations with the GPC.

Dr George Kassianos, RCGP spokesman on immunisation, said: 'It was announced in February and now it's May and we still haven't got the vaccine.

'If there are financial considerations to sort out, they should have been sorted out before it was announced. If that is what's holding them back then that's not right.'

The GPC confirmed that negotiations were still under way, and branded the department's strategy of making announcements before concluding negotiations a 'mistake'.

GPC deputy chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'I imagine the department will not know until it has concluded negotiations with us. I think GPs will be rightly annoyed that it is making announcements without concluding negotiations.'

A spokeswoman for the department said: 'We expect to introduce it in 2006/7. A decision has not been taken.'

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