2023/2024 Core feline vaccine national shortage

Unfortunately, due to complicated post COVID-19 manufacturing issues, there is now a nationwide shortage of the core feline vaccination (F3). Supplies are expected to stabilise in early 2024. 

The F3 vaccination is the core vaccination that cats must have prior to being sold or given away (Cat Management Act 2009) or going into boarding facilities. The vaccination schedule usually involves 3 kitten vaccinations followed by a booster at 6-12 months of age, then annually to triannually. It helps protect cats against three contagious viruses: feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus that cause ‘cat flu’, and feline parvovirus that causes feline enteritis and panleukopaenia. 

Vaccination plays a pivotal role in managing these diseases in the community, and a national F3 vaccination shortage could lead to devastating outbreaks of these diseases in the community, especially cat shelter environments. 

This means that the veterinary community are needing to take a collective approach to prioritise vaccinations in cats that are at greatest risk, which are unvaccinated kittens, unvaccinated outdoor cats, and cats that are needing to go into boarding. 

Adult cats that have had 2-3 kitten vaccinations and an annual booster are at a much lower risk of contracting these diseases, especially if they are prevented from contact with stray cats by being kept indoors and/or in a “catio”. Delaying annual boosters for these adult cats will enable us to prioritise vaccinations for high-risk cats until supply issues normalise next year. 

As a result, until the F3 vaccination supply stabilises, the Animal Medical Centre will be: 

  1. Prioritising vaccinations for unvaccinated kittens/cats, cats going into boarding and geriatric cats (>12 years old) that go outside
  2. Delaying annual boosters for adult cats (<12 years old) that have had 2-3 kitten vaccinations and at least 1 annual booster in the last 3 years   
  3. Recommending 2 kitten vaccinations (rather than 3) at 12 and 16 weeks of age and keeping the kittens in a safe environment until their 16 week vaccination 

Are you planning on going away over the festive period? To help conserve vaccine supplies for high risk cats, it is worthwhile to consider if you are able to have a family member or friend pet sit for you rather than putting your cat into boarding. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat's vaccination status, please phone the clinic and our friendly team members can assess your cat's needs based on their individual circumstances. 


Written by Dr Tahlia Gale BVSc (Hons1)