‘Absolute disgrace’: We can’t protect our kids
QUEENSLAND is in the grip of a meningococcal disease vaccine shortage, with pharmacies reporting alarming low supplies.
Two vaccines that protect against the A, C, W and Y strains have been added to "current shortages" list by the Therapeutic Goods Administration as pharmacies and parents report difficulties obtaining the shots.
Australian Medical Association spokeswoman Danielle McMullen said the shortages of Menactra and Menveo vaccines were "particularly concerning".
"If people get wind of it they'll actively try to get vaccinated, and it will become difficult," Dr McMullen said.
"Hopefully, government supplies will be maintained for our highest-risk groups, which is babies under two and teenagers 15-19, but GPs may start recommending other people don't get vaccinated."
The shortages come as a state government immunisation scheme, offering free ACWY jabs for 15-19 year olds, ends on December 31.
Meningococcal disease is an acute infection caused by bacteria in mucus that is transferred through close contact such as kissing, coughing or sneezing.
Zoe McGinty, 20, died of the W strain in September last year, and Phoebe O'Connell, 18, remains seriously ill after contracting the Y strain two weeks ago.
One Brisbane mother of three teenagers said she had to visit four pharmacies before finding stock, calling it "an absolute disgrace".
The Courier-Mail also had trouble sourcing an ACWY multi-vaccine, with a Priceline pharmacy advising it had none and its warehouse was depleted.
Catherine Rogers, of Junction Road Family Medical Practice in Clayfield, said shortages could not come at a worse time, with the highly social festive season and three weeks left in the funded teen program.
For younger children and adults, including the risk-prone 20-24 years group, the ACWY jab costs upwards of $75.
Dr Rogers said there had been a "massive increase" in immunisation requests but people needed jabs against all five strains, including B (which is not funded and costs up to $500).
"But if you can find stock of B and not ACWY, get B while you can."
Chemist Mary-Lou Condon, of The Compounding Lab in Albion, warned of price-gouging, "like with concert tickets", as people scrambled for supply.
"You shouldn't be paying any more than $115 for ACWY," she said.
A spokesperson for Queensland Health said it had "adequate supply of meningococcal ACWY and B vaccines".
Supply of Menactra and Menveo would resume in early 2019, according to the TGA.
The ACWY vaccine Nimenrix, federally funded for babies aged 12 months, is not listed as in shortage.