National shortage of influenza vaccine

24 May 2018

Unprecedented demand has impacted the availability of seasonal influenza vaccines nationally, with a record number of influenza vaccines distributed (9.9 million doses nationally for the 2018 flu season to date compared to 8.3 million doses for the entire 2017 flu season). Over 390,000 influenza vaccines have been distributed to immunisation providers in South Australia for use in the National Influenza Program. Comparatively, this is more than the total yearly distributions for each of the previous four years in South Australia. In addition, 63,000 doses of flu vaccine have been distributed for the State Funded Childhood and Health Care Worker Influenza Programs. Despite this increase in supply, a 25-30% surge in demand has left influenza vaccine supply both in South Australia and nationally critically low. Some additional stock is expected to arrive in SA in early June, and the Commonwealth government is continuing to work with companies to seek additional supplies of vaccines.

In South Australia, there have been 1,303 cases of influenza notified to the Communicable Disease Control Branch as of 19 May 2018, compared to 1,372 cases over the same period in 2017, with no indication that the 2018 influenza season has commenced.

Immunisation providers, including pharmacies, are asked to:

  • Only provide influenza vaccine to the following groups
  • Offer unvaccinated persons over 65 years a trivalent influenza vaccine (Fluad® or Fluzone®), or if not available, a single dose of quadrivalent influenza vaccine. Revaccination later in the same season for individuals who have already received vaccination is not recommended.
  • Reconsider advance bookings for influenza vaccination due to uncertainty relating to vaccine supply.
  • Note that vaccine orders provided through the SA Health Vaccine Distribution Centre may be adjusted to ensure equitable distribution of available stock.

Doctors are advised to limit the spread of influenza by:

  • Encouraging respiratory etiquette (e.g. cover cough or sneeze with tissue or arm) and hand hygiene in all persons.
  • Excluding persons with influenza-like illness from childcare, preschool, school or work.
  • Considering early treatment of influenza-like illness with anti-viral medication (e.g. oseltamivir), particularly in those at high risk of severe influenza infection.

Further clinical information is available at

For all enquires please contact the CDCB on 1300 232 272 (24 hours/7 days)   

      Dr Louise Flood – Acting Director, Communicable Disease Control Branch 

For updated information on notifiable diseases in South Australia visit:

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