'Cheap' flu vaccine blamed for outbreak

Published: 30 October 2017


Health professionals are blaming a ‘discount’ flu vaccine for Australia’s record-breaking flu season, which saw about 217,000 people come down with the virus – more than 2.5 times more than last year.

The national vaccination program used a $6 ‘budget’ vaccine, which some experts claim did not adequately protect the elderly population.

Another $8 vaccine which is four times stronger and is found to be 24 percent more effective in preventing the illness is not available in Australia.

Immunisation Coalition chair Professor Paul Van Buynder told News Corp investing more money in a better vaccine would save costs in the long run.

“Paying for a vaccine that doesn’t work is a false economy, if you can stop tens of thousands of people getting sick or hospitalisation the extra expense is worth undertaking,” he said.

“This was a disaster year and if we don’t get policy change as a result heaven help me.”

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, slammed Professor Van Buynder’s claims, calling them "utterly false."

"The flu vaccines chosen this year were the best available in Australian market, selected by medical experts in Australia and around the world," he said.

"They are the same vaccines which are available and used in the UK, US and other countries and the same vaccines available on the private market in Australia."

He said the other, 'stronger' flu vaccines are not available in Australia because the manufacturers had not registered them for use in Australia.

"A vaccine cannot be considered by the PBAC, unless a company submits an application and the vaccine has been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration," he said.

He said the government had provided more than 4.5 million doses of the influenza vaccine for free to Australians this year.