Fluvax supply under cloud

By Holly Tregenza

KYABRAM health services are battling to keep up with an unprecedented demand for flu vaccinations, with “significant” wait lists reported at both pharmacies in town.

Kerr’s Amcal Pharmacy and Ian Collie Pharmacy in Kyabram are both almost completely without supply, save for a small number reserved for those eligible for a free shot under state or national immunisation programs.

They’ve both attempted to order more of the life-saving jab, and are hopeful more will soon be on its way.

Both GP clinics, Kyabram Regional Health and Scope Medical Centre, have supply of free vaccinations which target the elderly, the pregnant and young children, but no supply for the general public.

The rising demand is part of a national trend, with more than 12 million vaccines already distributed and an additional 400,000 doses currently on their way to Australia.

Rory Kerr from Kerr Amcal Pharmacy said he suspects the spike is due to a media push in recent years.

“We’ve been immunising for three years now and this year I ordered double, and I’ve still run out. It’s been really well publicised and I think it’s at the top of people’s minds, which has driven demand,” he said.

“It’s a shame we don’t have the supply, but great that more people want to get vaccinated. Herd immunity is very important.”

Pharmacist Ian Collie is frustrated health authorities did not order more of the vaccination in response to the increased publicity.

“They should not advertise and scare people unless the vaccination is available. The people who import them just haven’t brought in enough,” he said.

Those aged 6 months to 5 years, over 65 or have certain chronic diseases are eligible for free public vaccines.

“We haven’t hit the worst times for flu yet – that is generally June, July and August. If you meet the government criteria for a shot, now is the time,” Kyabram Regional Health’s nurse Kate Worsfold said.

Campaspe Shire regulatory and community services general manager Paul McKenzie said the number of flu vaccinations the council immunisation team had taken on to date had increased on previous years.

Campaspe Shire’s immunisation team alone is set to administer almost 1800 doses.

‘‘We can’t make a comparison to 2018 as there was an Australia-wide shortage of the vaccine from May,’’ he said.

‘‘Despite this shortage, council’s immunisation team still administered 1400 doses of the vaccine last year. This year, the team has administered 1700 and are on track to administer towards 1800 doses.

‘‘Council continues to have adequate stock, both to administer free vaccines as well as for paid vaccines.’’