Health Benalla Regional Victoria

Critical shortage of flu vax hits Benalla

15 May 2020

More than 1000 people over the age of 65 are now on a waiting list for flu vaccination in Benalla because the state government has limited distribution of the vaccine to 50 doses a week per medical clinic.

Local MP and The Nationals deputy Steph Ryan said she had written to the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt who had informed her the federal government had increased and fast tracked doses under the National Immunisation Program.

“Distribution of the vaccine is up to state governments and at the moment the state will not provide any one clinic with more than 50 doses of Fluad Quad a week irrespective of the clinic’s size or number of patients,” Ms Ryan said.

“The Fluad Quad vaccine is an enhanced formula designed specifically for people who are over the age of 65.

“At a rate of 50 doses per week and a waiting list of more than 1000 patients, clinics will not be able to vaccinate everyone prior to peak flu season.

“Local GP clinics are doing their very best, but they are limited by the number of doses the state government is providing.

“The doctors and nursing staff at Church Street Surgery have been doing a stellar job, performing four back-to-back Saturday flu clinics to try and vaccinate as many patients as they can but at the current dosage rate, it will take until Christmas to vaccinate those aged over 65 on their waiting list.”

Ms Ryan said she was particularly concerned about the shortage of the vaccine when coronavirus restrictions meant people could not visit loved ones in aged care unless they were vaccinated for the flu.

“Restrictions requiring proof of flu vaccination for people to visit aged-care facilities makes the need for adequate supply even more critical,” Ms Ryan said.

“The Andrews Government must urgently ramp up the distribution of the flu vaccination to protect older people in the community and to ensure people can visit their loved ones who are living in aged care.”

Ms Ryan said with governments advising people that getting the flu vaccine was now more than ever, it was critical the Andrews Government worked with local clinics to ensure all those who wanted to be vaccinated were vaccinated.

“Urgent change is needed. Country medical practices should not be drip fed supply and they should not be forced to create waiting lists and prioritise patients. It’s not fair on the clinics or their patients.

“I have written to the Victorian Health Minister to request the Andrews Government meet the demand of our regional GP clinics and pharmacies by increasing the allocation of flu dosages.

“While I am pleased to hear many locals are heeding medical advice to be vaccinated, we must have an ongoing supply to meet the demand as we face the additional threat of COVID-19 this year.”

Photo caption: Church Street Surgery Practice Manager Janine Rofe and patient Ian Gill speak with Steph about the flu vax shortage.                                                                    

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