A combination of the complexity of the flu vaccine formulation this year combined with getting the children's version made overseas, has delayed the arrival of the winter flu vaccines.
Merimbula’s Sapphire Clinic is informing residents that there has been a delay in the delivery of flu vaccines which are not expected until late April.
Practice manager Peter Cumming said the flu shots are unusually late this year.
“We usually start vaccinating people in early March,” Mr Cumming said.
“We have had a lot of elderly people wanting to come in for their vaccinations but we just have to turn them away, we are not sure when we will get the vaccines.”
The Department of Health has a message on its website stating that the Influenza Immunisation Program will not commence until April 20.
CEO of the Influenza Specialist Group, Kim Sampson explained that although the World Health Organisation decided on which virus to include in the vaccine in October 2014 there are a few reasons for the delay.
“Usually from year to year the change formulation is very minor however this year there are two changes which make it more complex,” Mr Sampson said.
This double-strain change, which is an unusual occurrence, has caused manufacturing delays due to the time it takes to develop, test and distribute the reagents needed to make the vaccine.
“Making an influenza vaccine can take up to six months because it is a very convoluted and complex process, these to changes makes it even more so.
“Another complicating factor is that the Australian vaccine manufacturer BioCSL doesn’t have a vaccine for children under five which means the National Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Program cannot be rolled out until they have sufficient supplies from at least one other supplier.”
Mr Sampson has said that it is important for all elderly Australians to get the vaccine despite reports that the flu vaccine in the northern hemisphere was only 18 per cent effective in fighting the H3N2 strain.
“The H3 component is the one that has been causing problems in the northern hemisphere and it often affects older people more severely. The good news is that the Australian vaccine has been modified to be effective against this H3 strain. I am confident that in Australia we will be protected.”
Mr Sampson also dispelled rumours that getting the flu vaccination can cause someone to get the flu.
“There is no truth in the claim that getting the vaccine gives you the flu. It is an impossibility.”