Couldn't get a flu vaccine? Time to try again

DELIVERY: A further two million influenza vaccines will be distributed to GPs and pharmacies from this week.
DELIVERY: A further two million influenza vaccines will be distributed to GPs and pharmacies from this week.

Help is on its way for vulnerable Australians who haven't been able to have their annual flu shot, with an additional two million influenza vaccines rolling out from this week.

COVID-19 concerns led to record demand for the influenza vaccine, resulting in the federal government ordering an extra two million doses.

This brings the available total vaccines available in 2020 to a record 18 million - up from 13.2 million flu vaccines in 2019.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the additional two million flu vaccines, manufactured in Australia by Seqirus, are being distributed to GPs and pharmacist from this week and over June.

Both influenza and COVID-19 cause serious respiratory illness. The combination of both diseases could be life-threatening, especially for vulnerable people.

The additional two million vaccines are in addition to what has already been provided by the government through the National Immunisation Program, which provides a free seasonal influenza vaccine to people most at risk of severe influenza and its complications.

AMA Council of General Practice chairman Dr Richard Kidd welcomed the extra vaccines.

"There was an unprecedented demand right from the get-go instead of it being spread out over a month or two but I think we are coming through the tail end of it," Dr Kidd said.

"Certainly for our practice, the demand is dropping off and we've still got supplies but other places may not have been quite as lucky as we were to get through it like that."

Dr Kidd commented that a private sector vaccine shortage also seemed to have eased.

"I think things are coming right.

"It wasn't quite as bad as the toilet roll off the shelves, however, there was a lot of demand right at the beginning that did put a bit of stress on the system but I think we came through it ok."

Hopefully, Dr Kidd said, this flu season is not going to be as bad as it potentially could have been.

"This is because a lot of the messages we've been giving for COVID-19 are messages we've been trying to give for years about influenza.

"In the middle of this COVID-19 situation, we have forgotten the statistics that something like 3000 or more Australians die each year from influenza-related disease or complications from their other diseases because of influenza - these are the people we are trying to protect."

Dr Kidd stressed it's never too late to get the flu vaccine and those who had previously been "unlucky with the timing" should try again.

This story Couldn't get a flu vaccine? Time to try again first appeared on The Canberra Times.