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Flu vaccine shortages due to ‘unprecedented demand’: Chief Medical Officer


Paul Hayes


21/05/2018 2:45:26 PM

Increased demand of up to 30% is the cause of shortfalls in the supply of flu vaccines around Australia, according to Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs.

The Federal Government says it has made more than 5.1 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccines available through the National Immunisation Program in 2018. (Image: AAP/Stefan Postles)
The Federal Government says it has made more than 5.1 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccines available through the National Immunisation Program in 2018. (Image: AAP/Stefan Postles)

‘Unprecedented demand for seasonal influenza vaccination this year has impacted the availability of supplies,’ Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs said. ‘According to states and territories, compared to last year there has been a 25–30% increase in demand.
 
‘Already this year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA] has released 9.6 million doses of influenza vaccines across the NIP [National Immunisation Program], state programs and the private market.’
 
Despite the shortages, Dr Hobbs said the overall message – that people are making an effort to protect themselves in the lead-up to influenza season – is an encouraging one.
 
‘It is positive that people have heard the message and are taking action to get vaccinated against influenza,’ he said. ‘The Department of Health can advise that additional doses of [trivalent influenza vaccines] and [quadrivalent influenza vaccines] will soon be made available through the NIP.’
 
In light of the shortages, anyone concerned about the availability of an appropriate flu vaccine should speak to their GP, Deputy Chair of RACGP NSW Dr Michael Wright told newsGP.
 
‘Supplies should arrive in Australia in the next two weeks, but until then people should see their GP if they have any questions,’ he said. ‘GPs have access to the full range of flu vaccines for patients of all ages, and are best placed to provide advice on immunisations for each specific patient.’
 
‘It is encouraging that people are taking on the message to protect themselves and their community from influenza.  It is important that as many Australians as possible are vaccinated against the flu.’
 
More than one thousand people in Australia died of the flu in 2017, the worst year since the flu pandemic of 2009. More than twice the usual number of people were admitted to hospital with influenza last year.



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