Private whooping cough vaccines run low

Declan Bush, BUSSELTON DUNSBOROUGH TIMESBusselton Dunsborough Times
Private whooping cough vaccines run low
Camera IconPrivate whooping cough vaccines run low Credit: Busselton Dunsborough Times

Massive increases in private demand for the pertussis vaccine have caused widespread shortages in Busselton pharmacies.

Media coverage of Perth infant Riley Hughes' death from pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in March, prompted the State Government to make the vaccine free for pregnant women.

However, the move caused a massive increase for demand and shortages in the private market as more people demand immunity booster shots.

Chemmart Busselton manager Scott Braddock said his pharmacy was running low.

"Demand's gone through the roof and outstripped supply," he said.

"They're not even telling us when it's going to be back in stock."

Mr Braddock said demand for vaccine boosters was low before media coverage of Riley's death.

"We'd probably do one or two a month. Now, since February, we've dispensed 16 to patients," he said.

"It's gone from very rare, to everyone wants it."

Mr Braddock said the shortage was "disruptive" but not a medical emergency.

Broadwater pharmacist Nadine Botha said she had a similar shortage.

"We see frustrated people every week," she said.

"We can't do anything about it.

"We haven't had any stock since that media coverage came out."

WA Country Health Services public health physician Naru Pal said a national shortage of one brand of the vaccine had also reduced the local supply.

Dr Pal said the shortage only affected private customers who wanted booster doses.

"WACHS can confirm there are sufficient supplies available for all the Government-funded pertussis immunisation programs, including the childhood program, school-based high school program and the newly announced program for pregnant women," he said. "Supply of pertussis vaccine is expected to return to normal by July."

Dr Pal said local pharmacies would continue to be supplied limited amounts of pertussis vaccine and advised patients to check if their pharmacies had stock.

Mr Braddock said childhood immunity to pertussis wore off around the age of 19 and people in contact with newborns or pregnant women should have a booster shot.

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