Tens of thousands of doses of the flu jab are being recalled after two batches were found to be contaminated, it has been revealed, as the annual winter vaccination campaign gets into full swing.
Regulators have revealed that 160,000 doses of the Novartis vaccine, Agrippal, are being recalled after 'particles' were found in the vials.
A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there was no safety issue and the recall was a precaution.
It comes as GPs are in the middle of their annual flu vaccination programme, with millions of people aged over 65, and with long-term conditions being called in for their jab.
However officials said the recall should not affect supplies as there are 17 other flu vaccines available and other manufacturers should be able to cover the shortfall.
In total 18m doses of flu vaccine are ordered for the UK each year.
Other batches of Agrippal are not affected.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are aware of the recall of two batches of Agrippal flu vaccine. These vaccines make up a small proportion of the flu vaccines used in the UK. No safety issue for people who have received the vaccine has been indicated and the MHRA and vaccine manufacturer continue to monitor the situation."
An MHRA spokesman said: “We have asked Novartis to issue a precautionary recall of two batches of Agrippal vaccine. The decision was made after the company reported quality defects with the vaccine which do not currently indicate a safety issue for those who received the vaccine. We will continue to closely monitor the situation with Novartis.
Meanwhile Dr Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal has called for Roche to reveal the full data on its anti-viral drug Tamiflu used to allievate the symptoms of the disease.