Unprecedented demand creates flu vaccine shortage across Australia

Demand for the influenza vaccine has soared by 25-30 per cent this season over the same period last year, authorities say.

Unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine has created a shortage of the potentially lifesaving injection across Australia.

A record 5.1 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine were brought into the country under the National Immunisation Program.

But an up to 30 per cent surge in demand ahead of the winter season has impacted supplies, federal health authorities said on Monday.

"According to states and territories, compared to last year, there has been a 25-30 per cent increase in demand," Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs said in a statement.

Dr Hobbs told ABC News Breakfast that despite an extra 1.3 million free vaccines available for those at risk in 2018, the government is sourcing extra doses.

"The forecasting 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 does 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, that will arrive in early June and will be released thereafter."

To date, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has released 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.


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Published 21 May 2018 at 10:52am, updated 21 May 2018 at 12:37pm