KeepHealthCare.ORG – Flu vaccine rationed as national shortage hits over 65s hardest
The most constrained stock were the vaccines for over 65s, she said.
Victoria’s stocks are also being rationed to most at risk groups.
The vaccines will only be available for pregnant women, over 65s, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to flu (including severe asthma, diabetes and heart disease) under the NIP.
Free vaccines for children six months to five years old is also available under NSW’s and Victoria’s separate state-based immunisaiton programs.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is seen with with Gillian Massey and son Alistair 2 to announce NSW’s free flu vaccine program for children six months to five years old.
Photo: Glenn Campbell
Vaccines are still available through the private market in some ares, but these supplies are also drying up in some areas.
Several Sydney-based parents have told Fairfax Media that they could not find flu vaccines for their school-aged children despite visiting as many as five GPs and pharmacies.
Dr Chant said flu rates were currently low in NSW and there was no indication that the state would experience a repeat of 2017’s brutal flu season.
“But we shouldn’t be complacent.”
Additional supplies of some of the vaccines would be available from overseas within a fortnight, and NSW Health was working closely with the Australian Department of Health to manage supplies, Dr Chant said.
“We are advising anyone who is yet to have the vaccine to call ahead to their GP to ensure the right vaccine for them is in stock.”
Dr Chant said NSw Health had distributed almost two million doses of the seasonal vaccines, roughly half a million more than the same time in 2017.
“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.
On Monday, Australia’s acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs said the unprecedented
increase in demand for the vaccines had triggered the national shortage.
The Australian government has increased supply of the flu vaccine by 10 per cent so far this year, with more than 5.1 million doses of the vaccines available in 2018 through the National Immunisation program (NIP), Dr Hobbs said.
But states and territories are reporting an increase in demand of at least 25 per cent. NSW Health reported a 30 per cent increase in demand.
The Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) has released a total of 9.6 million doses of the vaccines through the NIP, state programs and the private market, up from 8.3 million in 2017, Dr Hobbs said.
The NSW government has spent $22.75 million on the state’s immunisation program in 2017-2018, Dr Chant said in a statement.
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
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