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Cairns pharmacy boss: Get flu jab now because there won’t be enough for everyone

A Cairns pharmacy leader has issued a warning to people to be vaccinated against influenza A as soon as possible or risk missing out.

Far North Queensland Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Trent Twomey, runs Alive pharmacies from Calliope to Cooktown.

He’s told Tropic Now that while everyone in the country is being urged to be vaccinated during the current COVID-19 pandemic, national stocks won’t cover everybody.

“There will not be enough for everyone in Australia that needs one.

“You should go and get it done now,” Mr Twomey said.

Highest risk groups are eligible to be vaccinated for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

However, the Australian Government recommends everyone aged six months and over get immunised.

Trent Twomey said currently, there is no need to prioritise bookings.

“We’ve been flat out for about a week now,” he said.

“We are not at the stage where we have to ration but everybody should be vaccinating against influenza A because it’s about herd immunity.

“Most pharmacies have stock, some are finding it difficult, but all our Alive pharmacies have stock.”

The government is also urging people to get the jab earlier than the traditional late April date.

“The national guidelines say if you are just getting one vaccination you should get it late April and that will cover you for the influenza season,” Mr Twomey said.

“But because we are going through COVID-19 you should get one immediately and then get a booster late July or early August.

“More people will die of influenza this year than will die of COVID, it has a higher mortality rate and more people get it.

“The issue is if you contract both at the same time, you move into a high risk category.”

Mr Twomey says while walk-ins are often catered for, people should make a booking first to ensure they’re limiting social exposure.

Those who are eligible for the free vaccine include:

  • Children aged six months to five years 
  • Pregnant women 
  • People aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • People aged six months and over with underlying conditions such as diabetes or severe asthma