The Ministry has been informed by PHARMAC that all Influvac Tetra vaccine stock has been distributed, with no further vaccine available this year. The distribution of influenza vaccine in New Zealand has reached near record levels. Around 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed already this winter. This number is close to last year’s all-time record of 1.3 million doses for the entire season, and exceeds the number of doses distributed each year in 2016 and 2017. We appreciate the hard work that providers have undertaken to deliver influenza vaccine at this speed.
We would like assistance from the PHOs' to ensure your practices have enough influenza vaccine to offer the vaccine to the priority groups outlined below, this may involve the sharing of vaccine between practices, if possible. We are aware practices pay for their influenza vaccine up front and will need to consider compliance with the Medicines Act and reimbursement options. The Ministry advises that this can be managed by the production of a written requisition from the recipient of stock to the provider supplying the vaccine. It is important for the vaccines to be transferred within the cold chain and your local Immunisation Coordinators or IMAC Regional Immunisation Advisors will be able to provide advice and assistance on the redistribution of vaccine.
PHARMAC have made two changes to funding criteria for Fluarix Tetra and Afluria Quad to ensure that influenza vaccine is available for the eligible groups:
· Fluarix Tetra is now funded for pregnant women as well as children aged between 6 and 35 months.
· Following agreement with Sequirus, Alfuria Quad is now funded for eligible patients, and can be claimed as for other funded vaccines. Please note that this is indicated only for those aged 5 years and older.
Practices and pharmacies will be able to claim for administration and vaccine cost when they administer these vaccines to their eligible patients.
The Ministry of Health is asking general practices and pharmacists to ensure they closely manage their stock levels and prioritise the vaccination of those at greatest risk of influenza:
· Pregnant women
· Children aged 4 and under with serious respiratory illnesses
· People with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them more susceptible to influenza
· Those aged 65 and over.
While one box of Influvac Tetra or Fluarix Tetra may be returned at the end of the year for refund, Afluria Quad cannot be returned.