Problems in distributing seasonal influenza vaccines are leaving vulnerable people at risk, according to a survey carried out by medical newspaper Pulse.

Around 37% of patients for whom the vaccine is recommended had received the shot by the end of October, well down on the 54% who had done so at the same time last year, according to the survey. In some cases, it was found, vaccination clinics have had to be cancelled due to lack of supplies and high demand.

At around the same time last year when demand for flu vaccine was racing ahead on public fears of a flu pandemic, the Department of Health issued an advisory blaming doctors for not ordering enough supplies, something which was furiously denied by the British Medical Association.

Last month, the DH assured general practitioners that supplies were coming on stream that would meet the expected demand for the vaccine among vulnerable patient groups, after the UK Vaccine Industry Group (UVIG) warned in June about possible Europe-wide delays to deliveries of influenza vaccine, or even shortages, due to problems growing one of the vaccine's virus strains.