Victoria: Demand for influenza vaccine stretches supplies


Central Victorian pharmacists and councils are running low on stock as demand for flu shots skyrockets.

Two Bendigo pharmacies said they were experiencing difficulty accessing vaccinations. 

Both said their suppliers were reporting shortages, with one running out but expecting to have adult vaccines next week.

Demand has forced the Campaspe Shire Council to put its flu vaccination program on hold, after stocks were exhausted.

Picture: Edwina Pickles

Picture: Edwina Pickles

The shire’s general manager of regulatory and community services Paul McKenzie said to date more than 1000 flu vaccinations had been provided to children and adults through the council’s immunisation program.

“More than 200 flu vaccinations were provided just yesterday, which resulted in the immunisation team running out of stock,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Flu vaccination stock was ordered earlier in the week, however is currently on back order. 

“It is hoped new stock will be delivered by the end of the month and the community will be updated once received and the team can recommence the community and business flu immunisation program.”

An additional session would be offered for Echuca once stock was received.

Bendigo Community Health Services offered flu vaccinations at its medical clinic and also through visits to local workplaces.

Executive director Callum Wright said demand had been driven by a tough 2017 flu season and public health drives.

“That is putting pressure on supplies,” he said.

Mr Wright said another factor driving demand at his service was employers, who were becoming more proactive about providing employees with vaccinations.

The service had administered well over 2000 workplace vaccinations so far this season around the City of Greater Bendigo area.

“That sort of number is getting close to the total flu vaccinations we would normally do in a year,” Mr Wright said.

He said his group had avoided shortages because it had been careful about managing demand.

“We stay in very close contact with our suppliers and have been very careful this year to make sure we have a regular supply coming through,” Mr Wright said.

“There’s been a couple of times that our supplies have been challenged, but with such a broad community response there’s only really so much product manufacturers can churn out.”

Mr Wright encouraged members of the general public to be patient.

“Everyone is doing the best they can along the way. The best thing people can do is book in for their flu shot. That will help people (working for providers) plan for it,” he said.

“If they are making appointments, clinical services will get around to them.”

Central Goldfields Shire had also experienced higher than usual up-take for flu vaccinations, though CEO Lucy Roffey said it had not experienced a shortage. 

She was encouraged to see more people getting vaccinated and more workplaces offering the service to staff.

This story Demand for flu vaccinations stretches supplies first appeared on Bendigo Advertiser.