2017 Influenza vaccine available for GPs
The quadrivalent influenza vaccine for 2017 will be made available for GPs from mid-April, the health department has confirmed.
Almost 7,000 flu cases have been diagnosed so far this year, up by 1000 from the same period in 2016.
“Influenza is responsible for 3,000 Australian deaths annually. The majority of cases are not lethal, but missing a shot can still be serious.”
Pharmacies across Australia have had access to the vaccine since mid-March, with the timing of deliveries to GPs determined under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) explained that the later supply to GPs would increase protection for elderly patients.
“Research suggests there is an increased likelihood in the at-risk age group over 65 that the immune response decreases after three or four months.”
“If these patients are vaccinated in April-May, the protection should last through the peak flu period of July-August,” Prof Booy said.
Who should receive the flu vaccine?
Under the National Immunisation Program the following people are eligible to receive free flu vaccine:
- all children aged from six months to younger than five years
- all pregnant women
- all persons aged 65 years of age or older
- all individuals with medical conditions that can predispose them to severe disease if they become infected with influenza, namely: • cardiac disease • chronic respiratory conditions • chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the preceding year • chronic neurological conditions
- people with impaired immunity
- children aged six months to 10 years receiving long term aspirin therapy.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged six months to less than five years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 15 years and over
Doctors should recommend their patients to become immunised and encourage families to be aware of the potential risks of influenza.
Pharmacy vaccinations are being encouraged to reduce the pressure place on under-pressure GPs. For more information, advice for immunisation providers regarding the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2017.