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Government-funded influenza vaccines will start to become available from mid-April 2019.

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. A series of questions and answers has been developed in response to some frequently asked questions.

An Influenza Vaccination Provider Toolkit has been developed to help GPs and other immunisation providers to manage influenza vaccination programs and vaccines in their practices. A checklist and timeline and vaccine ordering worksheet also accompany the toolkit.

An influenza vaccine information sheet has been developed to assist providers with managing the various influenza vaccine presentations and eligibility for each vaccine. Please print and place on or near your vaccine refrigerator.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group has released a statement on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2019 The Australian Chief Medical Officer has also released a statement on 2019 influenza vaccines detailing changes to the program this year.

Free influenza vaccine

Free seasonal influenza vaccine is funded for the following groups at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age (including Aboriginal and medically at risk)
  • all individuals aged 5 years and over with medical risk conditions, 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.all people aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over (vaccine that is specifically designed to produce a higher immune response is available for this group).

Specific recommendations

All children

Children aged 6-35 months should receive FluQuadri™ Junior or Fluarix Tetra®.

Children aged 3 years to less than 5 years should receive Fluarix Tetra® or FluQuadri™.

Children aged 5 years and older may receive Fluarix Tetra® or FluQuadri™ or Afluria Quad®

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.

For further information visit Immunisation of young children against influenza - evidence review.

Pregnant women

Vaccination remains the best protection pregnant women and their newborn babies have against influenza. Influenza infection during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery and even death in newborns and very young babies. Pregnant women can have the vaccine at any time during pregnancy and they benefit from it all through the year. Three educational videos are available:

For further information visit:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Free influenza vaccine is recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 6 months and older as they are at increased risk of influenza and its complications.

Health care workers (employed in NSW Health facilities)

Health care workers are at increased risk of transmitting influenza in the health care setting and are highly recommended to receive their annual influenza vaccination. Free influenza vaccine is provided for all health care workers employed in NSW Health facilities. Under NSW Health’s revised policy directive PD2018_009 on health care worker screening and vaccination, health care workers employed in Category A High Risk positions will be required to provide evidence that they have received their influenza vaccination by 1 June annually or will be required to wear a surgical/procedural mask while providing patient care in high risk clinical areas or will be deployed to a non-high risk clinical area during the influenza season. More information is available on Occupational assessment screening and vaccination.

People aged 65 years and over

All people aged 65 years and over are recommended to have Fluad®. This vaccine is made to offer increased protection (especially against influenza A/H3N2 which is more common and severe in the elderly) and this benefit is likely to compensate for any loss of protection against the B strain not included in the vaccine that is provided to individuals less than 65 years of age.

Influenza vaccines

Five free vaccines will be available in 2019:

An influenza vaccine information sheet has been developed to assist providers with managing the various influenza vaccine presentations and eligibility for each vaccine. Please print and place on or near your vaccine refrigerator.

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines available for use in 2019, by age

Registered age group FluQuadri Junior 0.25 mL (Sanofi) FluQuadri
0.50 mL (Sanofi)
Fluarix Tetra
0.50 mL (GSK)
Afluria Quad
0.50 mL (Seqirus)
Influvac Tetra
0.50 mL (Mylan)
Less than 6 months No No No No No
6 to 35 months (less than 3 years) Yes No Yes No No
3-4 years No Yes Yes No No
5 years and older No Yes Yes Yes No
18 years and over No Yes Yes Yes Yes
65 years and older No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Note the new age indications for Fluarix Tetra (from 6 months of age, previously 3 years) and Afluria (from 5 years of age, previously 18 years).
Give a full 0.5mL dose of Fluarix Tetra at all ages, do not give a half dose.
 

Trivalent influenza vaccines available for use in 2019, by age

Registered age group Fluad 0.50 mL (Seqirus) Fluzone High Dose 0.50 mL (Sanofi)
Less than 6 months No No
6 to 35 months (less than 3 years) No No
3 to 64 years No No
65 years and older Yes Yes

 

Provider communications

All communication materials sent to providers about influenza vaccination in 2019 are listed in the table below:

​​Date ​Communication
13 March 2019​ Fax/email about 2019 influenza vaccination program and start of vaccine pre-orders
29 March 2019​ Fax/email about high flu disease activity and start of vaccine distribution

 

Vaccine strains

The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the Australian 2019 season contain the following four virus strains:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017(H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 - like virus
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 - like virus**
    ** not included in Fluzone High Dose® or Fluad® for people aged 65 years and over

Timing of vaccination

Annual vaccination is recommended before the onset of each influenza season. The period of peak influenza circulation is typically June to September for most parts of Australia. While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. It is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate all year round. Vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating and a valid vaccine (before expiration date) is available. Revaccination later in the same season for individuals who have already received vaccination is not recommended, although not contraindicated.

Latex in vaccines

In 2019, influenza vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program and NSW State programs are latex free. For more information, refer to the influenza vaccine information sheet.

Ordering vaccines

Immunisation providers can order vaccine online now. 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 (expected to be mid-April).

Reporting influenza vaccinations to the AIR

Immunisation providers should report influenza vaccines given to all people to the Australian Immunisation Register (taking care to administer and report 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. More information about AEFIs is available on Adverse Events Following Immunisation.

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Page Updated: Wednesday 10 April 2019
Contact page owner: Immunisation