The National Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Program for 2015 commenced on 20 April 2015. This was later than the usual start date, due to a change in two strains from the 2014 vaccine. This double-strain change, which is an unusual occurrence, caused manufacturing delays but no vaccine shortages.
Annual seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended for any person aged 6 months and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza. Australian Government advice and recommendations on the National Influenza Vaccination Program are available as are links to Australian Government resources.
The influenza vaccine for the Australian 2015 influenza season contains the following three virus strains:
- A (H1N1): an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) - like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
- A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2) - like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 - like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
Free influenza vaccine
Under the National Influenza Vaccination Program, free seasonal influenza vaccine is available for the following people:
- all people aged 65 years and over
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
- pregnant women
- people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza, namely:
- Cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
- Chronic respiratory conditions, including suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma
- Other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year, including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies
- Chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and seizure disorders
- Impaired immunity, including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use
- Children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy
Latex in vaccines
In 2015, three seasonal influenza vaccines are provided free for eligible people under the National Immunisation Program:
- Fluvax® is latex-free
- Vaxigrip® is latex-free
- Fluarix® is not latex-free
Recommendations for children
Fluvax® is not approved for use in children less than 5 years of age.
Each vaccine delivery includes alternative vaccine (either Vaxigrip® or Fluarix®) that can be administered to children aged 6 months to <10 years. An information sheet that explains how to administer a paediatric dose of vaccine is also included.
Two doses of influenza vaccine at least one month apart are recommended for children aged less than 9 years who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time. The same vial must not be used for the two doses.
The distribution of seasonal influenza vaccine commence d in the last week of mid April 2015 to allow for the start of the National Influenza Vaccination Program on 20 April 2015. General practices can order vaccine online. Ring the State Vaccine Centre on 1300 656 132 if you have not already registered for online ordering. Aged care facilities can order influenza vaccine by submitting an order form. Vaccination clinics should only be scheduled once vaccine has been delivered.
Reporting Influenza Vaccinations to ACIR
Immunisation providers are encouraged to report all influenza vaccines given to children up to 7 years of age to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (taking care to note the correct vaccine brand name).
Reporting Adverse Events
Immunisation providers should report any suspected adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) directly to their local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.