Chief Medical Officer refutes ‘cheap’ flu vaccine claim

Chief Medical Officer has slammed claims Australia received a 'cheap flu vaccine'.

CMO refutes cheap flu vaccine claim

Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer for the government, has refuted claims a cheap vaccine failed to protect the elderly in what has been Australia's worst flu season on record.

More than 217,000 Australians had laboratory confirmed cases of the flu this year - more than double the previous record of just over 100,000 in 2015.

Immunisation Coalition chair Professor Paul van Buynder told NewsCorp on Monday that a $6 version of the flu vaccine, which did not properly protect the elderly, was the problem.

Despite a horror flu season, Prof Murphy said the claims were "utterly false" and stood by the vaccine being used around the world.

"The flu vaccines chosen this year were the best available on the Australian market, selected by medical experts in Australia and around the world," Prof Murphy said.

"They are the same vaccines which are available and used in the UK, US and other countries, and the same vaccines available on the private market in Australia.

"The two vaccines mentioned in the media today are not available in Australia because the companies have not had them registered for use in Australia with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

"They have, therefore, not submitted an application for their use in the National Immunisation Program with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

"A vaccine cannot be considered by the PBAC, unless a company submits an application and the vaccine has been approved for use in Australia by the TGA."

In a press conference, Prof Murphy said the influenza A strain of the virus underwent change throughout the season resulting in the elderly responding poorly to the flu.

"Another very important factor this year was the nature of the predominant influenza A strain, which is a virus that did seem to undergo some change during the year, and generally vaccine protection was less across the whole community for this strain," he said.

"So the elderly had a double impact, as you might think, from a virus that changed a bit and, generally, they have a weaker immune response."

Did you have a flu shot this year? If so, did it protect you from the flu, or did you get it regardless?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Spitfire
    31st Oct 2017
    10:35am
    From my discussion with my own GP it is my understanding the available free vaccine is a different strain to that which can be purchased from the pharmacy.
    The one available from the pharmacy being the better of the two.

    Apart from this why is the free vaccine only becoming available later each year, it use to be available in late February which surely was beneficial giving recipients a longer period to develop an immunity before the flu season commenced.

    I have been having flu shots for over 20 years now and it has worked very well for me personally.

    I am disillusioned with a health service that appears to be falling apart with both quality and service in this country.
    almost a grey hair
    31st Oct 2017
    11:19am
    pharmaceutical companies can only make a vaccine based on last years strains coupled with what they believe the next seasons strains to be. Ive heard that they consider three strains which might appear and go with that. So its possible if you get your shot early you may be getting vaccinated for an older flu, not what may be headed our way in the near future. regardless whether its free or $6 or $20 someone has to pay for the research needed to develop the product. So perhaps if we introduce a user pays system where everybody pays the same for the same product except of course for those at risk then we may get the latest and greatest product and therefore the greatest result. We all have to pay our bit to get the best healthcare we can
    Ted Wards
    31st Oct 2017
    11:21am
    Love media hype!

    31st Oct 2017
    11:22am
    We have a 'flu injection every year and neither of us has had any problems with either the injection or the 'flu. I fully accept the explanation of Professor Murphy as his assertion can be proved incorrect quite easily if he is not telling the truth. Has Professor van Buynder elaborated on his claim or are we expected to accept his theory because of his qualifications? Australia has an unenviable record when it comes to approving medication prior to release on the population.
    GeorgeM
    31st Oct 2017
    8:07pm
    Sorry, OM, I don't buy Prof Murphy's bureaucratic cover-up type statements. He says "flu vaccines chosen this year were the best available on the Australian market", then goes on to say "two vaccines mentioned in the media today are not available in Australia because......". About the latter, the question is Why Not? Did the Govt's willingness to pay adequately have something to do with it?

    In summary, the best vaccines were not used in Australia! The fact that there were more than double the cases this year and caused many additional deaths means that the Govt needs to take Prof van Buynder's comments seriously, and FIX the system which caused the problems this year, instead of hiding behind convoluted statements.
    patchy
    31st Oct 2017
    11:26am
    I have the flu shot every year no problems until this year & I had the worst bout of flu ever ,this years shot was totally useless.
    john
    31st Oct 2017
    12:16pm
    Yes but what you got may have been something totally different to what you were protected against, that is the whole point , don't stop having protection , because you blame your illness on a "no good" vaccine, you can only blame the illness you copped , as a strain totally different or changed a little , OR, something totally not in the shot at all , maybe not even a flu. Have your shots.
    cupoftea
    31st Oct 2017
    11:56am
    As a diabetic 2 i get mine free every year and i have had no problems at all
    john
    31st Oct 2017
    12:12pm
    PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT EACH YEAR THE VACCINE COVERS CERTAIN TYPES OF STRAINS, AND THERE ACTUALLY ARE PERHAPS THOUSANDS OR MILLIONS OF STRAINS.
    I had the vaccine nothing happened to me. If I ever get anything, it is mild probably a cold , or much milder flu attack, its because of strains, and changing strains, like everything with vaccine nothing can be 100% but in the many years that I and my family have been having flu shots no one has come down with something bad, so have your shots, it cuts the odds , and that is all you can do.
    KSS
    31st Oct 2017
    1:07pm
    There were actually two different flu vax this year. The first early one was against three strains whilst the later one was against 4. It is possible that some of those affected were not vaccinated against all 4 flu strains and contracted the one they missed. Having the shot too early can also result in infection at the height of flu season because the efficacy begins to wane after about 4 months.

    The organisation I work for arranges free vaccination every year because we work with people with compromised immune systems. None of us had flu this year although there were plenty with colds and other sniffles - all of which I escaped.
    Jim
    31st Oct 2017
    3:04pm
    Wife and I have the flu injection every year and have never had any issues, the only thing I don't understand is that a few times when we go in to get our injection the receptionist has told us the free pensioner injection is out of stock of not yet available, but I have watched the nurse getting my flu serum from the same fridge that all of the other bottles of serum are kept, I am assuming that he fridge were my serum was kept isn't only for pensioner serum? As I said earlier we have been getting the flu injection for years without any problems.
    Rosret
    31st Oct 2017
    5:42pm
    The doctor interviewed on TV in regard to this bout of flu said secondary bacterial complications were common this year.
    This year there has been an extensive push to make anti-bacterial cleaners and antibiotic scripts less readily available. Could this have had an impact on the severity of the flu. I know I needed antibiotics and I was quite sick for many weeks and so did nearly everybody I knew who also got this bug. - and the antibiotics did work and I was so grateful to have them prescribed (after 6 weeks of being unwell).
    KSS
    31st Oct 2017
    7:13pm
    The flu is caused by a virus nothing to do with bacteria. And antibiotics do NOT help with a viral infection. Unfortunately too many people demand antibiotics for every sneeze and sniffle.

    The fact that you improved with antibiotics means you clearly had a bacterial infection and not the flu.

    I'm glad you mentioned the antibacterial cleaners etc as they are absolutely a pet hate of mine. They are unnecessary and work no better than good old fashioned plain soap and water. They do however, contribute to proliferation of resistant bacteria and the spread of untreatable infections. I wish all the lotions, potions, cleaners, wipes, sponges etc containing antibacterial properties were removed from shelves for good. It is very difficult today to find any cloths, sponges or cleaning/washing products that don't have them.
    Rosret
    31st Oct 2017
    8:22pm
    KSS the report said this flu bug was causing secondary bacterial infections i.e. sinusitis, pneumonia etc.
    I had the flu - so did just about everyone in our town and so many this year ended up with a secondary infection needing antibiotics.
    Re antibiotics in all those items you listed are going off the market very soon if they haven't already as we are all becoming resistant as you said.
    I always thought I was just gimmick advertising on these products - we shall see I guess.
    Blossom
    1st Nov 2017
    2:17am
    Only last week I spoke to a Registered Nurse who works in the Emergency Dept. of a large Public Hospital. The strain of flu going around now is not the strain that the latest vaccination protects people from.
    The manufacture of the vaccine was alterred in some way this year as they weren't happy with the first batch which delayed its release until April this year.
    Dallas1955
    1st Nov 2017
    8:16am
    I think this is the governments way of culling the old and weak. Just so they can reduce their welfare costs.
    Anonymous
    1st Nov 2017
    6:41pm
    typical comment of a real D...HEAD


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