Update on 24 September 2018

There has been unprecedented demand for influenza vaccine in Australia in 2018. NSW Health has distributed two and a quarter million doses of state and national program influenza vaccines, around three quarters of a million more than in 2017.

NSW Health has been working closely with the Australian Department of Health to manage the influenza vaccine supplies provided under the National Immunisation Program.

Flu shots are available for free under the National Immunisation Program to members of the community who are pregnant, over 65 years of age, are Aboriginal or have medical conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

The NSW Government this year purchased vaccines for children up to five years of age which we are providing for free this year, in addition to vaccines for all public health facility staff.

NSW Health has sufficient stocks of influenza vaccines suitable for all ages, but we are advising anyone who is yet to have the vaccine to call ahead to their GP to ensure the correct formulation for their age is in stock before they attend for vaccination.

Influenza seasonal activity has peaked and is now trending down in many areas. The influenza A(H1N1) strain continues to be the most common strain identified.

In this page

Free influenza vaccine
Specific recommendations
Influenza vaccines
Provider communications​
Vaccine strains
Latex in vaccines
Ordering vaccines
Reporting influenza vaccinations to the AIR
Reporting adverse events​  

The annual National Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Program commenced in mid April 2018. The NSW-funded vaccination program for all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years also started at this time. 

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. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has developed advice for immunisation providers regarding the administration of 2018 influenza vaccines.

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

Free influenza vaccine

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

  • all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age (more information is availble on the dedicated webpage
  • 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
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 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 immunse response is available for this group)

Specific recommendations

Group Recommendations​
All children
All children aged 6-35 months should receive FluQuadri™ Junior while children aged 36 months and older should receive Fluarix Tetra® or FluQuadri™. 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 the following:
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 the following: 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Free influenza vaccine is recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged from 6 months to less than 5 years and those who are aged 15 years and over 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 the dedicated webpage.
People aged 65 years and over All people aged 65 years and over are recommended to have Fluzone® High-Dose or Fluad®. These vaccines are 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.
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Influenza vaccines

Six free vaccines will be available in 2018:

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines available for use in 2018, 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​ ​​No​ No​ No​
3-17 years ​ ​No Yes​ Yes​ No​ No​
​18 years and older No​ Yes​ Yes​ Yes​ Yes​
65 years and older​ ​No Yes​ ​Yes​ Yes​ Yes​

Trivalent influenza vaccines available for use in 2018, by age

Registered age group​ Fluzone High Dose 0.50 mL (Sanofi)​ Fluad 0.50 mL (Seqirus)​
​Less than 6 months No No​
​6 to 35 months (less than 3 years) ​No No​
3-17 years​ ​No No​
18 years and older​​​ ​No ​No
​65 years and older ​Yes Yes
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Provider communications

All the communication materials sent to providers about influenza vaccination in 2018 are listed in the table below, including the latest flyer which explains which groups should receive which vaccine.
 
Date Purpose​​ Document​
​13 July 2018 ​Fax reminding GPs of free flu vaccine for eligible people and advice on cirulating strains GP flu season update​
​18 May 2018 ​Updated flyer clarifying age restrictions and dosing​  Influenza immunisation sheet
​17 May 2018 Flyer included in all deliveries about flu vaccine restrictions Webpage
​16 May 2018 Fax/email to GPs on preserving Fluarix Tetra and Fluquadri for children aged 3–17 years  GP Fax about flu vaccine stock
​4 May 2018 Updated flyer about which vaccine should be used for which age group ​Superseded (see 18 May)
20 April 2018 Fax reminder to GPs about which vaccine for which age group and latex in needle sheaths Superseded (see 18 May)

9 April 2018

(and ongoing)

Stickers and flyer in each delivery of influenza vaccine

 Flu stickers

Flyer superseded (see 18 May)

​27 March 2018 ​NSW Health website live This webpage​
​15 March 2018 Fax to all NSW GPs, aged care facilities a​​nd Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) Aged care flu pack  GP fax about flu with flyer
​2 March 2018 CMO letter and ATAGI statement sent by the Australian Government to all providers

CMO letter about 2018 influenza vaccination 

ATAGI Statement

​23 January 2018 Fax to GPs, AMS, Community Health, Paediatricians & Children’s Hospitals regarding under 5 flu program GP fax about flu under 5​​​​
  

Vaccine strains

The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the Australian 2018 season contain the following four virus strains:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016(H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 - like virus
  • B: a B/Brisbane/60/2008 - like virus**
    ** not included in the 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.

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Latex in vaccines

In 2018, the following influenza vaccines do not contain latex: FluQuadri™ Junior; Fluquadri™; Afluria Quad®; Fluarix Tetra® and Fluzone High Dose®.

Fluad® does contain latex in the removable needle shield: Fluzone High Dose® should be used instead. Contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055 to order Fluzone High Dose® for your patients over 65 years with a severe allergy to latex.

More information about latex is included in the flyer.

Ordering vaccines

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 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 the Adverse Events Following Immunisation page.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 
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Page Updated: Monday 24 September 2018
Contact page owner: Immunisation