An email leaked from the Ministry of Health has revealed New Zealand is facing a temporary shortage of the flu vaccine amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The leaked email comes as officials have repeatedly denied we are running out, insisting problems with availability have been down to distribution and not a lack of stock.
The email says the vaccine for children under three is nearly all gone and warns of an overall ‘gap’ in flu jabs before the next shipment later this month.
At Karori Medical Centre, business has been non-stop with up to 80 flu vaccinations being done a day, double the same time as last year.
Helen Grisdale a nurse at the medical centre says there are only enough flu vaccines to last until next week. The centre estimating it has at least 500 elderly, pregnant or vulnerable people in the community still needing the vaccine.
“We have enough vaccines to honour the flu clinics we currently have running, but after Thursday next week we have no more vaccines,” she told 1 NEWS.
Bryan Betty of the Royal New Zealand College of GPs says the next batch are due to arrive on the 10th of May.
A letter leaked to 1 NEWS shows just how bad the situation is.
The Health Ministry is warning of a gap in supply until the next shipment is released on May 12 and says it wants providers to prioritise the vulnerable and delay anyone else.
Demand has been unprecedented with 1.3 million vaccines distributed.
All last month, officials were confident of our supply - even today Grant Robertson saying there wasn’t a problem.
“Just to be really clear about that - there are 700,000 vaccine doses around the country that have not yet been administered, so they are in the community. There is availability of flu vaccine,” he said.
The gap in supply poses no health risk, as the flu season has not yet started. But there’s concern the public are being given the wrong message.
“They hear that on the news or from the Government to say there's enough stock, where actually there isn’t,” says Ms Grisdale.
The New Zealand Medical Association weighing in saying the public have a right to know what’s happening.
“It would be extremely helpful if the Government were to make a public announcement that if there is going to be a gap -that everybody hears it so that we don’t get abused when we say we don't have stock for a short period of time,” says the Association’s Kate Baddock.