Children, the sick and the elderly will be first in line to receive an influenza vaccine as the health department begins to ration the vaccines until more supplies are ordered.
The unprecedented demand for the vaccine comes from doctors, the Australian Medical Association and the federal government’s push for every Australian to receive a flu shot.
In 2017, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released 8.3 million doses of the vaccine, with the figure increased to deliver 10 million doses in 2018.
Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy says the department are awaiting confirmation from the government regarding the next shipment of supplies.
“Until we can get the assurance from the commonwealth government there’s flu vaccine available for all…we’re rationing our flu vaccines for the most vulnerable groups,” she told Nine News.
“We want the flu vaccine to be available for all and that’s why we have called upon the federal government to get more assertive and organised about ensuring a solid supply.”
Hennessy says she sent an email to the federal government last week amid concerns supplies were running out. She was told a delivery should be expected in the coming weeks.
The Department of Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Hobbs expects another 144,000 doses within the next fortnight.
“We expect another 144,000 doses in the next one or two weeks. We continue to work with manufacturers to bring other vaccine into the market. It is still very early in the season. We have had no indication to date that this flu season so far is any different or any worse than any other season,” Hobbs told Nine News.
The shortage is being blamed on more Australians feeling the need to get the jab, based off a deadly flu season last year. In that period, there were 1100 flu-related deaths, including 121 aged-cared residents in Victoria alone.