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Why I took drastic action on dissenters

The Department of Health has sourced new supplies of MMR, but catch-up campaigns in some areas remain suspended.

The department wrote to immunisation co-ordinators on April 13 warning that supplies of MMR were 'extremely low' and asking them not to advertise catch-up campaigns.

After a frantic search, supplies were ordered from GSK and Aventis Pasteur and have been filtering through to practices this week.

But immunisation co-ordinators claimed the shortages had damaged confidence in catch-up programmes.

Dr Mike Lilley, a consultant in communicable disease control in Bedfordshire, told Pulse one practice in his area had had to cancel clinics for 100 people.

'As far as I am concerned there is a shortage. We are waiting for the department to say supplies are completely back to normal before we restart campaigns,' he said.

Dr George Kassianos, the RCGP's immunisation spokesperson and a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, said: 'I cannot advise resumption of the immunisation clinics until I see the MMR vaccines in the practice pharmacy fridge.'

Dr Jill Lewendon, consultant in communicable disease control in north, east and central London, said GPs had been informed last week of shortages and supplies were only coming through now.

'This is very frustrating just as everyone is gearing up to give the MMR,' she said.

Pulse understands there are concerns over the department's ability to keep track of vaccine usage among teenagers and young adults ­ with fears that there is little to prevent further shortages.

A department spokesperson insisted: 'This was a short-term supply problem. Stocks arrived on Friday, which are available to GPs to order. We have ordered more and will get more in following weeks.'

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