'The NHS is scrambling to get hold of the right flu jabs in time for this winter, amid fears millions of Britons will not be protected against a deadly “Aussie” strain.
Health officials say delays by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in selecting the vaccine for this winter mean that some jabs will not be delivered to GP practices until the end of November.
Normally flu vaccinations are offered by the NHS from September.
In a letter, seen by The Telegraph, health officials urge GPs and pharmacists to check when their stocks will be delivered.
They said manufacturers have warned that the lateness of the WHO’s decision will mean some vaccine supplies arrive later than normal.
The WHO typically makes its recommendations about which strains of flu to protect against in February. But this year it delayed a decision on one strain - H3N2 - for a month, in a bid to adjust to mutations in the key strains in circulation.
Since then the virus has proved dominant in Australia, which is currently experiencing one of the worst flu seasons on record.
The country, which is now in the height of winter, has already had three times as many deaths as in the whole season last year, with around eight times as many laboratory confirmed cases as normal.
NHS officials hope that the jabs will arrive ahead of the UK’s flu season, which typically starts in December.
But this year Australia has experienced one of its earliest flu seasons in its history.
The delays to NHS jabs affect the “quadrivalent” jabs used for pregnant women and adults with health problems, such as asthma or diabetes.'
Read more: NHS flu jabs delayed amid scramble to keep up with 'Aussie' strain