Locals urged to get flu shot as supplies run low

Geraldton Guardian
Geraldton pharmacist Alex Theodos says flu medicine has been flying off the shelves.
Camera IconGeraldton pharmacist Alex Theodos says flu medicine has been flying off the shelves. Credit: Picture: Tamra Carr, Tamra Carr The Geraldton Guardian

Health workers battling to combat influenza cases in Geraldton are bracing for a second wave of the illness, with the usual peak season less than a month away.

Influenza treatments and vaccinations are flying off the shelves at pharmacies, amid an outbreak which has seen about 850 more Mid West residents get sick this year than in 2018.

Several local pharmacies have reported depleted stocks of antiviral medication Tamiflu and influenza vaccines, as well as waiting for wholesalers to fill a backlog of orders.

TerryWhite Chemmart Geraldton’s Barbara Kirk said they were waiting for back orders, while sister store TerryWhite Chemmart Bluff Point was expected to run out soon.

“We’re doing heaps of vaccines and we still have a supply, but it’s not a large supply,” Bluff Point owner Jo Sorensen said.

“So, if you want one it’s probably best to come in now.

“We’re expecting another wave of flu in the next couple of months, as the peak season in Geraldton is usually around August and September.”

Maria Wijaya from Friendlies Pharmacy in Wandina, said business had been booming.

“It’s been very busy with people wanting vaccines, antibiotics and Tamiflu. In fact, we have run out of stock,” Ms Wijaya said.

“There is a back order but we’re not sure when we’ll get more.”

Alex Theodos, the pharmacist in charge at Optimal Pharmacy Plus on Lester Avenue, said they had also been selling a lot of Tamiflu, but stock remained steady.

Likewise, Chemist Warehouse manager Mahmoud Elshwek said it had been very busy.

“It’s probably the biggest flu season I’ve seen in the past few years,” he said.

Midwest GP Network chair Ian Taylor said flu rates usually reached a peak in August and September but it was just too hard to predict whether the worst was yet to come.

“Hopefully we have had an early season and the flu won’t rear it’s ugly head again,” Dr Taylor said.

“But it’s just totally unpredictable, we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

So far this year, almost 756,000 people have been vaccinated in WA.

A Health Department spokesman said influenza rates had decreased, but were still much higher than in previous years.

He said residents should get vaccinated and, wherever possible, also avoid hospital emergency departments.

“We ask that people who are unwell with respiratory symptoms do not attend school or work,” he encouraged.

“This will only exacerbate the spread of the virus.

“Do not attend an ED unless you are experiencing respiratory distress or your condition is worsening.

“The figures are showing that a lot of children and adults under the age of 65 are presenting to EDs with winter respiratory illness symptoms, but only a small proportion of these people are actually being admitted.

“Therefore they could have been seen by their GP.

“Above all though, our key message remains the same: stay home if you are not well, to reduce spreading the illness, and to seek the appropriate level of medical assistance, if required, depending on your condition.”

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