NSW Health have released an update on influenza vaccine supply and drive-in clinic guidelines. It’s important that your practice is aware of this update, so we ask that you read and distribute this accordingly.

Influenza vaccine supply update

NSW Health have advised that all influenza vaccine orders for persons aged 5 years to 64 years who are Aboriginal, medically at risk or pregnant placed from Wednesday 22 April onwards are now in back order.

Orders will be filled when more influenza vaccines stock becomes available in June.

Orders for persons aged 65 years and over are also temporarily out of stock. Orders placed from Wednesday 22 April are in back order but will be filled when more stock is available at the end of this week, Friday 1 May.

There has been unprecedented demand for influenza vaccine early in the season. Of the 2.6 million doses ordered for the 2020 season, more than 2.1 million doses have been distributed since 30 March, compared to one million doses distributed at the same time in 2019.

Influenza activity in NSW remains low and there is still time to get vaccinated. Optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first three to four months following vaccination. Timing of vaccination should aim to achieve the highest level of protection during peak influenza season. This usually occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia. Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season.

Orders placed for children 6 months to less than 5 years are not affected and will be delivered as per normal. However, to preserve supply, the total number of doses available per order has been be reduced.

To assist people in the community seeking influenza vaccination, a list of providers with available vaccine supply is available on the NSW Health seasonal influenza vaccination webpage.

Further updates will be provided on the NSW State Vaccine Centre online vaccine ordering website and via email/fax when stock becomes available.

Drive-in Immunisation Clinics

Guidelines to support practices considering drive-in immunisation clinics are now available on the NSW Health website. Drive-in immunisation clinics are not routinely recommended due to safety concerns for patients that may experience a rare adverse event following immunisation.

Immunisation providers considering this option after reviewing existing advice for maintaining and implementing vaccinations clinics during COVID-19 should consider the guidelines, Drive-in Immunisation Clinics – Advice for providers during COVID-19 response.

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some key messages from the NSW Health Guidance for GP practices considering vehicle-based influenza vaccination clinics:

Providers must review the pre vaccination screening checklist with the patient to ensure they are suitable for drive-in immunisation services and the influenza vaccine. This pre-vaccination assessment could be conducted via the phone.

Appointment times should be staggered to allow for the immunisation encounter and 15 minutes post vaccination observation. People attending drive-in immunisation clinics MUST remain in the car to observe the standard 15-minute observation period.

Patients who are not suitable for drive-in immunisation services should be offered an in-clinic appointment. These patients include:
• Patients with previous history of anaphylaxis or allergy to influenza vaccination and,
• Patients with an unknown history of anaphylaxis (receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time)

Our Practice Development team is here to help you with any questions you may have regarding these updates. Please contact your Practice Development Coordinator or our Helpdesk on 8811 7117 or support@wentwest.com.auOptimal protection against influenza occurs within the first three to four months following vaccination. Timing of vaccination should aim to achieve the highest level of protection during peak influenza season. This usually occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia. Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season.