If you’ve tried to book in with your doctor for a flu shot but have been told to come back in a few weeks, here’s why.
A record 5.1 million doses of the vaccine have arrived in Australia under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), but a 30 per cent surge in demand has left federal health authorities both pleased that more people are heeding their warning and red-faced that there are not enough to go around – just yet.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs said in a statement: “According to states and territories, compared to last year, there has been a 25 to 30 per cent increase in demand.”
He told the ABC that despite providing an extra 1.3 million free vaccines in 2018 for those at risk, the Government was in the process of sourcing extra doses due to unprecedented demand.
“The forecasting (for demand) arrived at the 10 per cent figure, and it is very important for listeners to know that the Commonwealth is working very hard to source extra doses. There are 93,000 extra doses for the trivalent vaccine for the over-65s and that’s arrived already,” Dr Hobbs said.
“In early June, there will be an extra 144,000 doses of the quadrivalent vaccine for the general population. They will arrive in early June and will be released thereafter.”
He reported that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had already distributed 9.6 million doses of influenza vaccines under the immunisation program, state programs and the private market. In 2017, the TGA released 8.3 million doses.
“The Department of Health is working closely with states and territories to monitor availability of vaccines,” Dr Hobbs said.
“The department is also working closely with company suppliers to ensure additional vaccines are brought into Australia.”
For the first time this year, people aged over 65 are being offered one of two influenza vaccines whose effectiveness has been significantly boosted.
Six different types of vaccines are being offered but two are recommended for older Australians and are known as trivalents. They are Fluzone High Dose by Sanofi-Aventis and Fluad by Seqirus.
In 2017, hospitals recorded a 50 per cent jump in admissions due to the flu. More than 221,000 flu infections were recorded around the nation – the highest ever – and many who had had a flu shot. This sounded alarm bells for health authorities, who determined that standard vaccines were probably not particularly effective in the elderly.
Have you tried to book in for a flu shot and been told to come back in a few weeks? Are you sure you’re getting the right vaccine?