Flu vaccines are being rationed in NSW and Victoria, following a significant increase in demand
Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy called on the Federal Government to become more organised about securing a stable supply of the vaccine, following what the Victorian government called “unprecedented demand”.
Earlier this week Australia’s acting chief medical officer Dr Tony Hobbs issued a statement saying that despite record numbers of the vaccine being brought into the country this year, availability had been “impacted”.
To date the TGA has released 9.6 million doses of flu vaccine across the NIP, state programs and the private market.
He said the Federal Department of Health was working with states and territories on availability, and that more doses would be brought into the country.
For the time being, Victoria is rationing all types of flu vaccine, the ABC reports.
Meanwhile NSW Health has issued a statement reassuring the community that its program of providing free flu vaccines for children aged under five is continuing despite the shortage.
Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer, said that supply has been secured for this age group.
“It is terrific the community has listened to our flu campaign messaging with millions of people getting their jabs early to protect themselves and help us ward off another epidemic like last year,” Dr Chant said.
TerryWhite Chemmart issued a statement saying that it is continuing to administer flu vaccinations and take bookings despite the shortage.
TerryWhite Chemmart CEO Anthony White warned that often people wait until too late in the season to be vaccinated, and that the Australian Medical Association has indicated May is the ideal month to do so.
“Many people hold off getting vaccinated until they notice others around them showing symptoms or staying away from work,” Mr White said.
“By that stage it may be too late to get the full benefit of the vaccination or, in this year’s case, may mean it is too hard to source a supplier that can administer the vaccine conveniently.
“We have ensured we have plenty of supplies of this year’s quadrivalent vaccine as well as booking slots for what we anticipate will be an extremely high level of demand over the next month.”
Last year there were almost 250,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in Australia.
As at 21 May 2018, there have been just over 13,000 such cases.
Queensland has had 4,308 of these cases while NSW is in second place at 3,964.
NSW’s Dr Chant said that at this stage influenza case numbers remain low in 2018, and there is no indication as yet of an early start to the flu season but we shouldn’t be complacent”.