Demands for meningococcal B vaccine make it scarce

Stock image.
Stock image.

LOCAL chemists are continuing to struggle to meet parents’ demands for the meningococcal B vaccine, with latest estimates suggesting a global shortage won’t be resolved until July.

Demand for the injection, known as Bexsero, began outstripping supply last year.

In November, manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline expected availability to improve in Australia by January.

But stock for suburban chemists remained scant.

“We are still experiencing intermittent stock-outs of the meningococcal B vaccine as deliveries come in and then are depleted quickly to fill back orders,” a spokeswoman said.

“This may continue until supply and demand reach a more stable state, which is estimated midyear.”

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Kinross Pharmacy manager Sarrah Siddiqui said the wholesaler had been “slowly distributing” the vaccine to community pharmacies.

Wanneroo Community Pharmacy received a new shipment late last month, while Clinicare in Alkimos had four boxes left last week.

Parents have been advised to get a prescription for the injection and put their name on an order list at their local pharmacy so they receive it as soon as it comes in.

There are five meningococcal strains: A, B, C, W and Y.

The Federal Government offers a free meningococcal C vaccine but the B variety is not part of the national |immunisation scheme.

The WA Government began a free immunisation program for teenagers aged 15 to 19 covering the A, C, W and Y strains in January.

The meningococcal B vaccine still comes at a cost to parents, who pay between $120 and $140 per jab.

The deadly infection has struck five people in 2017, with three cases of type W, one of B and another that could not be determined. Three West Australians died from the illness last year.