The Hon. Ashton Hurn, Shadow Minister for Health (SA), Media Release, 13 February 2023
The Opposition has been advised that there could be a precious stockpile of the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) vaccine up for grabs – but will soon expire – that could be used to protect South Australians from the disease as the flood recovery in the Riverland officially begins.
Chairman of the Immunisation Coalition in Australia, Dr Rod Pearce, has indicated that the New South Wales Government is in possession of a surplus of JEV vaccines, with doctors based in the state telling him “they can’t give them away”.
In South Australia, the free hard-to-find JEV vaccine is only available at clinics and pharmacies located in select river communities. Some people in eligible flood-affected postcodes can receive the free shot.
Family members and friends whose loved ones live in flood impacted areas are not eligible for the free vaccine and face a cost of $300 to protect themselves.
SA Health has warned the main mosquito species which carries the deadly virus has been detected in high to extreme numbers as water levels slowly recede.
Shadow Minister for Health, Ashton Hurn, called on Peter Malinauskas to urgently investigate if unused JEV vaccines were available in New South Wales and how to get them here.
“If there are spare JEV vaccines up for grabs, Peter Malinauskas must act to secure them to help keep South Australians safe during the flood recovery effort,” Mrs Hurn said.
“We know over the coming months thousands of South Australians will be travelling to the Riverland whether that’s for a holiday, or to help family and friends with clean up duties.
“Now that the emergency management declaration for the floods has ended, every South Australian should be given the choice to protect themselves from JEV.
“Peter Malinauskas knew the emergency declaration would end, so it’s quite disappointing he was flat-footed in speaking to other states about additional JEV supplies.
“To better protect the community and help ease the pressure on our already overworked health system, free JEV vaccines make a lot of sense.”