Pharmacies across Australia report long waits for flu transmission as families rush to follow official advice to get vaccinated to avoid dangerous “double dose” infections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the flu vaccine does not offer protection against COVID-19, doctors say it is one of the best things you can do to reduce pressure on the health system because it grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
Experts have urged everyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot in April to provide the best protection against the peak flu season, which starts in June.
But many pharmacists who offer jabs with nurse practitioners to adults for around $ 30, including Chemist Warehouse and Priceline, are now booked for the whole of April, prompting fears some will lose or not be immunized in time for flu season.
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Although the Morrison Government is moving to secure the largest supply of seasonal influenza vaccines, the CSL group, which has been producing influenza vaccines in Melbourne, since the 1940s is now working to increase production.
Seqirus – owned by CSL – is the only local flu vaccine producer in the country.
“There is very strong initial demand for flu vaccines in all channels – doctors, pharmacies and other immunization providers,” Seqirus executive director Danielle Dowel told news.com.au.
“This is a good thing overall for important vaccine programs, especially this year because our health system is handling the COVID-19 outbreak simultaneously.
“We have distributed five million vaccines with more to come. There will be more flu vaccines distributed throughout the country after Easter and until May, and we encourage people to call their clinic or pharmacy beforehand to make sure the vaccine has arrived and is available. “
Hundreds of Australians die from the flu each year and that also results in thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of thousands of general practitioner consultations.
The symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 can also be similar and are likely to produce more tests for the corona virus for people who only have the flu.
Locking measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and even just washing hands more often can actually reduce the number of flu cases this year, but experts urge people to keep getting vaccinated.
Under the new COVID-19 steps, all visitors to elderly care facilities and child care facilities need to get a flu shot from May 1 to enter the place, increasing demand.
For the first time, the world’s first 4-shot flu vaccine that offers greater protection against more strains has also been offered this year in Australia and publicity around the new vaccine has also increased ordering.
In a letter to doctors in March, chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy stressed getting a flu shot at the right time to ensure immunity was important.
“Vaccination from mid-April provides protection before the peak season,” he said. “While protection is generally expected to last during the season, the best protection against influenza occurs in the first 3 to 4 months after vaccination.”
Another reason why pharmacies are running out is that orders for flu season dosage orders are completed 6 months before each flu season.
This gives producers time to produce the vaccine. However, no one predicted the emergence of COVID-19 when this year’s order was placed.
Only adults can be vaccinated by private providers at the pharmacy. The official suggestion is that everyone over the age of six months should get vaccinated.
But children still need to order with a GP to get a flu shot.
There should be no shortage of blows to more than 65 who are now receiving free vaccines.
It is also offered free of charge to pregnant women and all children under 5 years of age.
Families can access the flu vaccine through private providers including doctors and pharmacists and state and territory programs.
People who do not have COVID-19, or who are not suspects of COVID-19, are allowed to leave their home for flu vaccinations.
But the President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Tony Bartone has urged people to call in advance and ensure their health care professionals have a vaccine and make an appointment.
“Influenza is a serious disease. “It can be prevented, and there is a very safe way to prevent it, and that is the influenza vaccine,” he said.
To find a provider flu shots, you can contact the National Immunization Hotline at 1800 671 811.