Free flu shot demand high
QUEENSLAND Health has issued 45 per cent more free flu vaccine than at the same time last year as more people line up for the jab off the back of the record 2017 season.
New data released this week shows 4315 Queenslanders have tested positive for influenza so far this year - 267 cases higher than this time last year - but the jump coincides with significantly increased testing.
Flu vaccine is free for the elderly, indigenous people aged 15 and over, pregnant women and Australians with chronic health conditions under the National Immunisation program.
Amid concerns about shortages of flu vaccine, a Queensland Health spokeswoman said stock for those eligible was being "carefully managed" in a year of high demand.
"Clearly, Queenslanders are getting the message to vaccinate against the flu," she said.
The spokeswoman said Queensland Health had adequate stock to immunise children aged between six months and three years under the free state program for children under five.
Children aged three and older receive the adult vaccine.
Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer Tony Hobbs said the Federal Health Department was working closely with companies to ensure additional flu vaccines were brought into the country.
Already this year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has released 9.6 million doses of flu vaccines into Australia across both the public sector and the private market.
In 2017, 8.3 million doses were released.
Despite some shortages of flu vaccine in the private market, Pharmacy Guild of Queensland vice-president Chris Owen advised people to ring around pharmacies.
"There currently are some shortages in some areas but I wouldn't say it's an across-the-board shortage at the moment," he said.
Mr Owen put the record demand for influenza vaccines this year down to last year's bad flu season which killed more than 1100 Australians and to more people heeding the immunisation message.
"Anecdotally, there have been a lot of patients saying: 'This is the first time I've ever got it'," he said.
A Terry White Chemmart spokeswoman said "a lot of our stores still do have stock".