Flu vaccine is free for the elderly, indigenous people aged 15 and over, pregnant women and Australians with chronic health conditions. Picture: Wayne Taylor
Flu vaccine is free for the elderly, indigenous people aged 15 and over, pregnant women and Australians with chronic health conditions. Picture: Wayne Taylor

Chemists forced to turn away locals as flu shot runs out

CHEMISTS are being forced to turn away locals requesting the flu shot as the Queensland immunisation crisis deepens.

In the Fraser Coast, there are currently no vaccines available for five to 18-year-olds as the number of adult vaccinations dwindle.

The Chronicle can reveal immunisation manufacturing company Seqirus is working 24/7 to produce more vaccines but these won't be available until mid July.

This means there is no relief in sight for concerned parents still hoping to vaccinate their children from the flu this year.

Local pharmacists are unsure if or when they will be able to restock the vaccine for under 18's.

Priceline Hervey Bay pharmacist Sam Turner told the Chronicle he had just 30 doses left and was turning families away daily.

"We are getting a lot of concern by parents who are unable to vaccinate their children," he said.

"Kids with asthma and chronic disease can have major complications if they are not protected from influenza.

"The idea that we won't be getting any more is really worrying."

Mr Turner said vaccinated parents can help protect their children from catching the flu but those travelling or regularly in public areas were still vulnerable.

While supplies are still available for the National Immunisation Program, which provides free vaccines for children under five and adults over 65, parents are now struggling to track down the jab for children aged five and older.

Children are not the only ones suffering with the adult vaccine in very limited supply. Mr Turner said local pharmacists had been unable to order stock since mid May.

"Those who still have stock are those who ordered stock more than a month ago," he said.

"Most pharmacies have had the shot unavailable for a few weeks now."

The Chronicle understands the region currently has less than 50 immunisations left.

Pharmacies still with stock are expected to run out by the end of next week.

Craignish Village Pharmacy pharmacist Paul Stanton ran out of the adult immunisations Thursday morning and said he didn't know if he would be able to restock.

"At the moment there is no way to order new vaccines."

"I ordered 50 per cent more than last year and have used them all."

This message was echoed by Mr Turner, who said he had already vaccinated more than double the amount of people than the whole of last year.

But Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young claimed the Government had enough stock to supply the needle to high-risk groups.

"We have already issued 47 per cent more influenza vaccine than at the same time last year," Dr Young told the Courier Mail.

Mr Turner said a large increase in influenza cases last season could be the reason for such high demand.

"Last season was the worst we have had in quite some time," he said.

"People are actively getting out there to vaccinate this year."

Dr Lorna Meldrum, vice president commercial operations, Seqirus Asia Pacific, said staff were "working around the clock" and she expected to have several hundred thousand additional doses ready for the community within the next few weeks.

She said having onshore manufacturing capability in Australia meant the company could support the Department of Health's request to get additional influenza vaccine rapidly to market.



EISTEDDFOD GALLERY: Dancers don't miss a beat in day six

premium_icon EISTEDDFOD GALLERY: Dancers don't miss a beat in day six

Meet the 15-year-old M'boro Dance Eisteddfod backstage queen

GALLERY: Bucking good time at Teebar rodeo

premium_icon GALLERY: Bucking good time at Teebar rodeo

Euan Rockemer said local competitors dominated the campdraft event