A FLU vaccine shortage has left thousands of over-65s unable to get the jab.
Patients have been repeatedly turned away by GPs and chemists.
And though fresh supplies should be available next week, there are fears many elderly people will not bother returning.
Shortages have been recorded in many areas including Bristol, Kent, Devon, West Sussex, Essex, Derbyshire, Middlesbrough and Liverpool.
Sources told the Daily Mail the latest vaccine, called Fluad, is more effective but could not be ordered until later than usual. Some GPs claim there were also delays in getting official advice on how to use it.
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John Kell, of the Patients Association, said: “This presents a very worrying risk to patient safety and could put NHS services under further pressure.”
NHS figures released yesterday show 45.2 per cent of over-65s have had the vaccine so far compared with 61.9 per cent during the same period last year.
NHS England said the jab “will be available to everyone in time for when the flu season usually starts in December”.
Bristol pharmacist John Billing said he was turning away up to 15 patients a day.
He said: “It’s getting to the point where some patients are saying ‘well, I’ll just forget it then this year’.”