A senior citizen in Northland who can not access flu vaccine say it’s a bit of a joke for the government to advise people to get immunised when there aren’t any vaccines available.
Christopher Graham is nearly 70 and booked in for a flu shot with his GP in Mangawhai two weeks ago but said the medical centre rang him a day before his appointment to say they didn’t have any vaccines available.
“I asked them when are they getting them and they said they couldn’t get anymore. It’s a bit of a joke on the government’s part I say, especially when they are advertising for people to get immunised,” Graham said.
He was advised to try the local chemist which also didn’t have any flu vaccines available.
Figures released by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) show Northland has the third highest rate of positive influenza cases in New Zealand on a per capita basis.
The Northland District Health Board is advising people, especially pregnant women, to get immunised against influenza as they were a priority group when vaccine supplies ran low.
ESR figures show 47 percent or 23 out of 48 patients tested by their GPs in Northland between April 21 to June 9 returned a positive result for influenza.
Graham said vulnerable group such as people over the age of 65 and those prone to sickness were likely to suffer from the non availability of flu vaccines.
“The strain of flu seem to be getting worse but the government is not funding their medicines.”
The Ministry of Health is asking GPs and pharmacies to ensure flu vaccine stock is closely managed and to prioritise the vaccination to those at greatest risk, including pregnant women, children under 4 with serious respiratory illnesses and those over 65.
Those with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them susceptible to flu are also at risk.
The ministry said already this season, distribution of influenza vaccine in New Zealand has reached near-record levels, with around 1.3 million doses distributed so far this winter.
“The ministry has asked providers to prioritise the stock remaining in clinics, estimated at around 20,000 doses, to those most at risk from the harmful effects of influenza.”
Pharmac and Seqirus have worked together to make 14,000 vaccines originally intended for the private market available to those who were eligible for publicly funded vaccines, the ministry said.