A Grafton pharmacy says its flu vaccinations numbers have jumped 500 per cent this year.
A Grafton pharmacy says its flu vaccinations numbers have jumped 500 per cent this year.

Clarence flu vax numbers jump 500% in a year

CLARENCE Valley people have responded in unprecedented numbers to the call for influenza vaccinations this year.

The pharmacist at Ramsay Pharmacy, Sarah Wood, said her outlet had delivered more than 700 flu jabs since April, four to five times the number of vaccinations last year.

Ms Wood said the response had been due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused concern that people could get both diseases at once.

“It was the double whammy that most people were worried about,” she said.

“People were also wanting to do the right thing so they didn’t get sick and take up doctors’ time if the pandemic took hold.”

Ms Wood said her group had restocked its pharmacies around Australia with the vaccine following the surge in demand.

“We’ve got about 200 doses left for people who want a last-minute vaccination,” she said.

She said it was important not to leave flu vaccination until after May.

“It takes about two weeks for the immunity to kick in,” she said.

The flu vaccine immunity is strongest for several months, which takes in the season peak in August.

Ms Wood said the publicity said the COVID-19 social distancing and hygiene rules had led to few influenza infections so far this year.

“It’s been good for flu and a few other things people normally pick up,” she said.

But she feared this could change as the COVID-19 restrictions relaxed and people moved around more.

Ramsay Pharmacy operations general manager Michelle Lynch said the increase in Grafton matched the demand around the rest of the State.

“Many pharmacists have administered more flu vaccinations in the past two months than they did for the entire 2019 influenza season,” Ms Lynch said.

Ms Lynch said Ramsay Pharmacies had responded to a record demand for flu vaccinations this year, with a 500 per cent increase in vaccinations compared to the 2019 season.

“There’s also been calls from leading health officials for the public to make sure they get immunised, and it’s been a requirement for many employees – particularly those in aged care and health settings – to be immunised in order to work in these high risk settings in a bid to minimise community infection,” she said.

More than 2.7 million New South Wales residents have received the government-subsidised flu vaccine this year, available to young children, the elderly and others who meet the eligibility criteria.

“With the risk of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for people to be immunised against the flu this year,” Ms Lynch said.

“And the more of us who are vaccinated, the less likely we are to become ill with influenza.”