Australia Gets Big Flu Vaccine Boost As Stocks Run Low

Australians won't miss out of flu shots after a big boost to vaccine stockpiles.

What you need to know
  • The federal government will make available an extra 800,000 doses of flu vaccine
  • The additional doses are on top of 10 million vaccines already allocated for 2018
  • The vaccine boost comes after concerns about a national shortage

Australia has avoided a shortage of flu vaccines after the federal government announced 800,000 extra doses would be available for the looming flu season.

The boost to national flu vaccine stockpiles comes as NSW, Victoria and the ACT faced a shortfall due to a surge in people getting jabs earlier than usual.

Australia's acting chief medical officer Anthony Hobbs on Saturday confirmed there had been a significant pick up in demand for flu shots.

"We have seen significant demand for seasonal influenza vaccines across the National Immunisation Program, state and private market supplies,“ Hobbs told media.

"We will continue to monitor the supply of influenza vaccines and we will secure further doses if required."

The extra doses are on top of the nearly 10 million vaccines that have already been earmarked for this year -- a big lift on the total number available in 2017.

Under the NIP, seniors, pregnant women, Indigenous Australians and those with certain medical conditions are all eligble for the free shot.

Children under five-years-old can also access free shots through immunisation programs in some states.

Hobbs told Fairfax Media that the vaccines would be available ahead of the flu season's usual peak in August or September.

The lift in demand comes after a horror 2017 flu season linked to an increased impact of the H3N2 strain, which disproportionately affects the elderly.

Labor health spokesperson, Catherine King, said the government needed to explain why they were forced to scramble to avoid a vaccine shortage.

"The Turnbull Government has clearly underestimated demand for this year’s flu vaccine. Labor supports all necessary measures to address this shortage," she said.

"But the Government should also explain how they got this so wrong and announce steps to ensure it does not happen again."