District Health Board regulates flu vaccine supply on West Coast

3:03 pm on 10 April 2020

West Coast District Health Board is taking a hand in the ordering of influenza vaccine around the region in an effort to improve supplies.

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Photo: 123RF

Clinics and GP practices around the coast have been running short of the vaccine with some running out completely and waiting up to 10 days for more.

The Ministry of Health says there is a good supply of the vaccine around the country and has been urging people eligible for free shots to get in early this year, to reduce potential pressure on hospitals during the Covid-19 epidemic.

But GP practices on the coast say they have not had enough vaccine to protect all those on the priority list, including over-65s and pregnant women.

Many were still waiting, three weeks after the vaccine was first made available.

One clinic said it had 200 people on its list, but received only 60 doses after a two-week wait.

West Coast DHB general manager Phillip Wheble said earlier this week that there were limited supplies of the vaccine and clinics were prioritising those most at risk, including rest home residents and health care workers.

He told the Greymouth Star on Thursday that the ministry allowed practices to order 60 vaccine doses a day and DHB co-ordinators would be reviewing all orders, as of Thursday.

"Currently, individual medical centres and general practice teams place vaccine orders directly with the supplier.

"From [Thursday] the ordering system changes, with all orders being reviewed via each DHB. It is hoped this will improve the supply chain."

Vaccine orders would be assessed against the practice's current stock, population and who had already been vaccinated, he said.

"The reviewer will then approve the order, or not - based on this understanding.

"So far on the West Coast, all orders have been approved and in some cases practices advised to make additional orders based on the needs of their community," Wheble said.

GP practices on the coast that have run short of vaccine have been telling eligible people to wait to be called up, as supplies become available.

But in his Covid-19 national briefing on Thursday, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield advised eligible people to ring their clinics and book their free shot.

Dr Bloomfield said the government had distributed more than a million doses of the flu vaccine to GPs, pharmacies and DHBs.

There were "good supplies" in every region, he said, and sufficient doses for all priority groups, whom he encouraged to ring their GP or local pharmacy to make a time to be vaccinated.

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