Vaccination remains our best defence against seasonal influenza, which causes significant morbidity and mortality in the Australian community each year. You, as a vaccination provider, play a key role in informing the community about risks associated with influenza and of the importance of influenza vaccination.
- Professor Brendan Murphy, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer
A greater number of vaccine types and brands are now being distributed to Australian practices, with age restrictions applying to all registered vaccine brands.
This year there are influenza vaccines of differing valency:
- Quadrivalent vaccines – two strains of influenza A (H1N1/Michigan & H3N2/Singapore and two strains of influenza B (Phuket and Brisbane).
- Trivalent vaccines - – two strains of influenza A (H1N1/Michigan & H3N2/Singapore and one strain of influenza B (Phuket).
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released its statement on seasonal influenza vaccines for 2018.
Vaccines for children ( 6-35 months)
Children in this group should receive the quadrivalent FluQuadri Junior. Do not use a half dose of any other flu vaccine.
Vaccines for children & adolescents (36 months to 17 years)
Children in this group should receive FluQuadri or Fluarix Tetra. Both of these are quadrivalent vaccines.
If the child is aged 6 months to < 9 years of age and it is the first time they have had a flu vaccine, they should receive two doses, one month apart. In subsequent years they require one annual dose only.
All children aged 6 months to less than 5 years are entitled to free flu vaccines in NSW. Any child aged 5 or more years who has a medical condition which predisposes them to severe influenza is also eligible for free flu vaccine
Vaccines for adults aged 18-64 years
The following quadrivalent vaccines can be given to adults aged 18-64: FluQuadri, Fluarix Tetra, Afluria Quad.
Any adult who has a medical condition which predisposes them to severe influenza is also eligible for free flu vaccine.
Vaccines for adults aged 65 years and older
This year two new trivalent vaccines for persons over the age of 65 have become available.
Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the haemagglutinin of the standard dose.
Fluad contains an adjuvant MF59 which boosts the action of the vaccine.
Trials in the US and Canada have found that these vaccines are between 22%-24% more effective in older persons than the present quadrivalent vaccines. Your patient will only require a vaccination of one of these vaccines, not both.
Latex in vaccines
In 2018, the following influenza vaccines do not contain latex: FluQuadri™ Junior; Fluquadri™; Afluria Quad® and Fluzone High Dose®.
The following influenza vaccines do contain latex in the removable needle shield: Fluarix Tetra® and Fluad®.
Q. What should I do if a patient over 65 receives a quadrivalent vaccine from the local pharmacy?
A. A second dose of flu vaccine is not recommended but is not contraindicated.
Q. Should I use Fluzone High-Dose or Fluad for patients younger than 65 if they have severe chronic disease?
A. No, these two vaccines are only registered for persons over the age of 65.
Q. My patient has an egg allergy. Can s/he still be vaccinated?
A. You need to ascertain what the allergic reaction is. If they can eat food containing eggs such as cakes, they do not have anaphylaxis to egg. If you need further advice regarding this call the Immunisation Specialist Clinic at Westmead. 1800 679 477.
Q. Can flu vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?
A. All inactivated influenza vaccines can be administered concurrently with any other vaccine, including pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, zoster vaccine and all scheduled childhood vaccines.
Parents/carers of infants or children who are recommended to receive both influenza vaccine and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (13vPCV) should be advised of a possible small increased risk of fever following concomitant administration of these vaccines.