22 May 2020

NSW Health exhausts 65+ flu vax supply

General Practice Vaccination

NSW Health has distributed its entire supply of the Fluad Quad vaccine for people aged 65 and over and GP clinics will not be able to order more of the vaccine for the rest of the flu season.

This quick depletion of state Fluad Quad vaccine supplies appears to be good news, however, because it suggests that flu vaccine uptake among older Australians is higher than normal.

The NSW state government has assured older patients that there are enough Fluad Quad vaccines to go around, and has provided a list of general practices that had the vaccine in stock as of 18 May.

“NSW Health has ordered enough Fluad Quad for all people aged >65 years and over in NSW,” the state government said in a memo circulated around GP clinics this morning.

“This allocation has now been delivered to practices across NSW. Orders placed prior to 21 May 2020 will be fulfilled.”

Around 15% of GP clinics – and 23 (10%) postcodes in NSW – did not have sufficient supply of the 65+ vaccine Fluad Quad as of 18 May, according to an analysis by TMR data scientist Steven Pollack.

However, a quick call around to GP clinics that were listed as having no access to Fluad Quad as of 18 May revealed that some practices now have supply.

“I’ve given a lot more flu vaccines than I normally would,” a GP nurse based in Dubbo, New South Wales,  told The Medical Republic.

People could not visit nursing homes without a flu shot now so that’s possibly why demand was up this year, as well as just general COVID-19 fears, she said.

If older patients were unable to access the Fluad Quad vaccine from their GP, they could be offered a standard quadrivalent influenza vaccine to protect against influenza, NSW Health said.

However, there were also delays in getting the adult flu shots to GP clinics.

Any orders for the adult flu vaccine made by GP clinics after 22 April are on back order until June when more stock becomes available, NSW Health said.

In total, 1.34 million doses of flu vaccine have been delivered for people aged 65 years and over in NSW.

As a nation, Australia has secured more than 4 million doses of Fluad Quad, which was “enough to provide vaccines for free through the NIP to almost 100% of people aged 65 and over”, the federal government said.

“In terms of the 65+ vaccine – Fluad Quad – the Australian Government ordered more than 4.2 million vaccines – enough to cover everyone in the age bracket,” said a spokesperson from Seqirus, which manufactures Fluad Quad.

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