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Ministers have announced a shortage of flu vaccine, despite their recent pledge that this would not occur.
The Department of Health is advising GPs in England to use remaining stocks on those at highest risk.
It blames the shortage on demand outstripping supply, most likely fuelled by public concerns about the threat of a possible bird flu pandemic.
The vaccine does not protect against avian flu, but offers some protection against common winter influenza.
A government expert said GPs either did not order enough vaccines, or have been giving them to people not in high risk groups. That accusation has been hotly denied by doctors.
Those at high risk of seasonal flu have been urged to get themselves vaccinated.
They include the over-65s and people with health problems such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
The Department of Health said the 14.5 million vaccine doses that had been ordered by GPs from manufacturers have all been used, which, in theory, should be enough to protect the 11 million people deemed high risk.