The Victorian state government says only the elderly, the ill, and children will be able to receive the flu vaccination, amid a shortage of vaccine doses following unprecedented demand.
“Until we can get the assurance form the Commonwealth Government there’s flu vaccine available for all… we’re rationing our flu vaccines for the most vulnerable groups,” said Victoria’s Health Minister, Jill Hennessy.
The Minister said people with certain kinds of illnesses, the elderly, and young children would be given priority access to vaccines.
The NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said children between six months and three years of age will be able to receive the vaccine, and other groups will have limited availability.
The Federal Health Department’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Hobbs, said a record 5.1 million vaccine doses were brought to Australia last year, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
States and territories have reported a 25-30 per cent increase in demand for the vaccine this year.
Braemer, an aged care provider in Perth, is offering free flu vaccines to all its staff, volunteers, families of residents, and even visitors at its Perth-based facilities in an effort to combat the highly contagious illness. The vaccines were delivered at three events, where free coffee, ice creams, and crêpes were provided.
Braemar’s GM Workforce Renee Reid, said the success of only the first events meant “already have seen more people attend than during the entire program last year.”
Dr Tony Hobbs, said 93,000 extra doses of the trivalent vaccine for over 65s have arrived in Australia, and will be released in the coming days. The over 65s vaccine is more potent than regular vaccines.
In June, 144,000 doses of the quadrivalent vaccine for the general population will be released.
Last month, the Federal Health Minister made it compulsory for aged care providers to offer the flu vaccine to every carer.
This year, New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT, and Western Australia are offering free flu vaccinations to children between six months and five years of age, which could be a contributing factor to the spike in demand.
The Federal Government recommends that everyone over the age of six months should be immunised. One of the advantages of being immunised is that not only do you not contract the illness, but you won’t be capable of spreading the highly infectious disease.
Last year’s deadly flu season led to 1,100 flu-related deaths, with 121 dying in a single Victorian aged care home.