HALF a million Scottish pensioners will miss out on an updated winter flu jab available south of the border because of a procurement blunder, SNP ministers have admitted.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick told MSP that NHS National Service Scotland ordered its vaccine before expert advisers recommended changing to a new strain.

It means that while the new Fluad jab is available to all over-65s in England and Wales, it will only go to over-75s in Scotland, missing out around 560,000 Scots aged 65 to 74.

Mr FitzPatrick said the sole supplier had been “unable to guarantee NHS Scotland sufficient supply of the vaccine for everyone over 65 in time" for this year’s vaccination programme, which starts next week.

He said GPs ordered the vaccine down south, not a central procurement body.

As a result the new Fluad jab would take into 2019 to reach all the Scots who needed it.

He said: “After seeking expert advice, it was clear that the safer approach for us to take would be to roll-out the new vaccine in 2018 and 2019 that guarantees a supply of the flu vaccine for everyone eligible.”

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: “This is so concerning because the number of flu deaths in Scotland rose from 71 in 2016-17 to more than 330 in 2017-18.”