What is the issue?
Unprecedented demand for influenza vaccines this year has led to supplies of the influenza vaccine becoming short across Australian States and Territories. This shortage is being seen in both the private and government funded areas and across most types of influenza vaccines available from pharmaceutical companies.
In Victoria, there is now no stock available for order of Fluarix Tetra, FluQuadri, Afluria Quad, Fluzone High Dose and Fluad. There is limited stock of FluQuadri Junior licensed for use in children aged six months to under three years old available for order.
Whilst we anticipate that a small volume of Fluzone and FluQuadri may arrive in the coming days and weeks, this is likely to be extremely limited.
The increased demand is very likely due to the consequences of the major influenza season last year and the department's advice to Victorians to protect themselves this year by getting immunised. Victoria has already provided more than 1.58 million doses of the vaccine to immunisation providers for use across the state, specifically for at-risk groups in the community.
The department is working with the Australian Government and immunisation providers to ensure that those most at-risk are protected from influenza this winter.
Who is at risk?
The following groups are identified as having increased risk of complications from the flu under the National Immunisation Program and should be given priority to receive the influenza vaccination:
- all children aged six months to less than five years old
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons aged 6 months to less than 5 years and those over 15 years
- all Victorians aged over 6 months who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza complications; for example, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, immune deficiency or diabetes
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy).
- The department is advising members of the public to call their GP to ensure the clinic has vaccine available before making an appointment to get a flu shot, and consider other clinics or health services if vaccine is not available.
- For all influenza vaccine stock that has already been distributed, the department strongly recommends that all immunisation providers should prioritise influenza vaccination of children aged six months to under five years first (if the brand can be provided to those children), and then should prioritise all other persons in risk groups eligible under the National Immunisation Program.
- Avoid using remaining stock to immunise people who are not in either of these two categories, in order to conserve remaining vaccine for those most at risk of complications from influenza.
- In order to further spare limited vaccines already in your stock, specific vaccines should be limited to use in specific age-groups and those eligible as 'at-risk' National Immunisation Program groups as per below:
- Fluquadri Junior - six month to three year olds
- Fluarix Tetra - three to five year olds and at-risk five to under 18 year olds
- FluQuadri - three to five year olds and at-risk five to under 18 year olds
- Afluria Quad - at-risk 18 to under 65 year olds
- Fluzone High dose TIV - 65 years and older
- Fluad TIV - 65 years and older
- If you require seasonal influenza vaccine for children aged six months to under five years, or for people eligible under the National Immunisation Program, consider submitting an order from the middle of next week, i.e. from around Wednesday 30 May, understanding that vaccine may not become available, and if it does, it may be in very small volumes.
Influenza vaccine supply
National Immunisation Program
Better Health Channel
For more information please contact the Immunisation section at the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 882 008.
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