Pharmacists are being overwhelmed by a surge in demand for the flu shot. MedAdvisor data shows in April alone, there was a 300% year-on-year spike in flu shots as Australians rush to get immunised earlier than usual.
Flu shot demand typically peaks in May. This year, as a direct result of COVID-19, MedAdvisor is seeing that peak come forward with more people opting for the jab in April.
MedAdvisor CEO Robert Read said: “The MedAdvisor data shows demand is far exceeding previous years. People are also getting the shot much earlier than the regular peak demand month which is usually May. However, pharmacies are struggling to keep up with demand. As we work to flatten the COVID-19 curve, we also need to stay on top of the flu curve this Winter.”
Dr Peter Friedland, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences in the University of Western Australia, a Professor in the School of Medicine at Notre Dame University, and is a Member of the Panel of Clinical Experts advising the Australian Department of Health, recommends people book in a flu jab now with their pharmacist or GP.
“Babies from six months and older, pregnant women, the elderly — everybody should get their flu shot this year,” Dr Friedland said.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is advising people to get the flu shot “as soon as available”, while Dr Friedland said, “the middle of April to the middle of May is a good time” depending on how many cases of flu are circulating in your neighbourhood. You can visit Flutracker.net.au to get an indication of flu cases via postcode.
This uptick in demand comes as NSW and Victoria expand pharmacists' vaccination role to align with vaccination rules in the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania. Pharmacists can now offer vaccination services across a range of settings including, aged care facilities, community health centres and Aboriginal Medical Services.
Pharmacists use the MedAdvisor pharmacy platform, PlusOne, to record and submit immunisation encounters to the Australian Immunisation Register, as well as managing patient bookings.