A medical centre in Katikati has run out of flu vaccines and it's unclear when more will arrive which has angered one doctor.
Earlier this month cars of people were queued up and down Beach Road waiting to get vaccinated by Katikati Medical Centre staff but some people were turned away due to the shortage.
"This should have been an all-day clinic. Instead of 1600 to administer we had 650, and that was the problem," said Medical Centre GP, Dr Vicky Jones.
"The time and energy spent in preparing for the flu clinic makes us frustrated and angry that we couldn't do it as planned."
The medical centre fielded a lot of calls last Wednesday , some very nasty, but Dr Jones said it was out of their control.
"Some kindness would go a long way," she said.
Katikati Medical Centre's enrolled population is just under 10,000 and over the last two years, the clinic has vaccinated around 2800 people per year.
"Looking at people's age alone we should be vaccinating nearly 3500 over 65-year-olds. There are additional younger people that are eligible for medical reasons."
The medical centre usually orders flu vaccines in clumps of 500 at a time.
Dr Jones said this year, knowing that there would be a higher uptake and with the help of the Katikati pharmacy, which was able to store more vaccines for them so they could order more, on March 2 the day ordering opened, they ordered 1000.
"We were told by the government to start vaccinating as soon as possible, so with that in mind, we set up our first drive-through clinic on March 25. On the Friday before - March 20 - the vaccine had not arrived, so we made a decision to change the date to April 1.
"What did arrive on March 23 was 1000 vaccines, so at that point we vaccinated the staff, pharmacy staff, rest home residents and a nurse did a mini-clinic at Summerset by the Sea retirement village," she said.
On March 12 the clinic ordered another 1000 so they would have a good supply for the April 1 drive-through clinic and expecting to vaccinate 1600 people. Yet the day before the drive-through clinic, only 100 vaccines were delivered rather than 1000 that they expected.
Dr Jones said there was no warning that they would get less than they had ordered. "Instead of 1600 to administer we had 650".
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The clinic ordered 800 on March 23 for the next clinic, but found out the remaining 900 outstanding vaccines and the next order of 800 had been cancelled. She said they were told they can only order 60 at a time, but they have not been told when they can order, how often they can order or when they will be delivered.
"We still have 2000 people eligible for the flu vaccine and can expect 60 in a timeframe that we have no idea about.
"We've spent an extensive amount of staff time setting up and reorganisng to prepare for larger amounts.
"We've had people being immunised in their cars due to Covid-19, to be safe."
GP Practices across the country are finding the same, she said.
"Then you hear Dr Ashley Bloomfield (Director-General of Health) saying on national television that there are plenty of flu vaccines, but clearly there are not.
"We are as frustrated as the people waiting for them are and are appealing to the PHO for more."
The Katikati Advertiser spoke to a 73-year-old who did not want to be named, in the queue of cars lined up on Beach Road that morning for the 9am clinic.
"I thought I wouldn't go too early with it being a small town and arrived at 9.40am. I could see the police by the church stopping cars, then a car roared past me shouting out, "they've run out."
"A police officer was going from car to car telling people and finally came to my car.
"She asked if I was waiting for a flu injection and suggested I call my doctor for other options."
The senior citizen felt it was a good idea to have the clinic away from the medical centre but it wasn't good to have the over 70s out on the road driving round.
The Ministry of Health said demand for flu vaccine has been extremely high and they were aware that some practices had already run through their initial orders.
"While it's great so many New Zealanders are keen to protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine this year, we recognise the pressure that demand has placed on general practices and pharmacies," the spokesperson said.
The Health Ministry said the current limit of 60 doses per practice was established to manage increased demand.
"We understand that the Katikati Medical Centre's first order was for 10 boxes of 10 doses each, and they may have mistakenly thought it to be for 1000.
"Their subsequent order was made as the distribution process was changing and was cancelled, like all outstanding orders, to allow for redistribution."
Dr Jones said she had emailed the Ministry expressing her concerns about the flu vaccine deliveries.
"They (Ministry) claimed that we had ordered 100 vaccines the second time.
"I assured them that we had checked our records and we had documented evidence that we had ordered 1000.
"They replied commenting that we should get back in touch with Heathcare Logistics regarding our previous orders as the Ministry had only the information that they had provided to them.
"Clearly the wrong information," Dr Jones said.
The Ministry is now working with PHARMAC and the supplier to manage influenza vaccine stock because there have been much larger orders than usual from many vaccinators.
"We are playing an active role in ensuring vaccines are redistributed around the country and the Ministry has asked Immunisation Co-ordinators to work with providers in their area to ensure that vaccines are where they need to be."
Dr Jones said an Immunisation coordinator in Tauranga had been in touch with the clinic yesterday.
The flu season doesn't start until late May and with New Zealand's borders shut, the Ministry expects fewer flu transmissions, but they will continue to ensure those who most need access to the flu vaccine, are able to get it.
"We are working to ensure that remaining stock and upcoming deliveries of influenza vaccines are distributed equitably so that vaccination can continue around the country with as little disruption as possible."