KUALA LUMPUR: Some 99,470 additional influenza doses will be brought in this month to meet the sharp demand for the vaccine.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the demand for influenza vaccines had increased dramatically since the end of last year.
He said currently there were six influenza vaccine products registered with the Drug Control Authority.
“A total 638,388 doses were brought in last year and of the total, only 10 per cent was allocated for health facilities under the Health Ministry,” he said in a statement today.
Dr Noor Hisham said the suppliers had distributed a total of 40,000 doses of influenza vaccine to private hospitals and clinics on Jan 7, resulting in no stocks left at suppliers.
He said at the health facilities under the ministry, influenza vaccine was only offered as part of the treatment for patients who are at high risk of getting infection complication and would be given based on a clinical evaluation by the specialists.
“The vaccine is also given to the front liners of the ministry who are exposed to the infection while handling patients,” he said, adding that the public who wish to get the vaccine can get it from private health facilities.
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the public were advised to consult their doctors before taking any medication.
“Although antiviral medication can help reduce symptoms and complications, it should be used rationally to prevent antimicrobial resistance which could result in ineffective treatment.
“Hence, patients are advised to consult their doctors as they will be able to provide necessary treatment based on the patients’ condition.”
He said in Malaysia, antiviral medicine Oseltamivir was being used to treat patients infected with influenza.
“There are various registered brands under Oseltamivir, including Tamiflu, Fluhalt, Osmivir and Starflu.”
He said there was sufficient stockpile of Oseltamivir at the ministry’s facilities, although the demand had increased.
“As there was a sharp demand for the medicine at private health facilities and the five existing suppliers could not meet the demand, the ministry has given special approval to obtain the supplies from alternative suppliers.”
He said to date the ministry had approved nearly 1.1 million capsules from December last year and the amount could benefit 110,000 patients.
Source: New Straits Times