Wed, 07/04/2018 | News

Active surveillance confirms 2018 influenza vaccine safety

AusVaxSafety, Australia’s active vaccine safety surveillance system, collects over 140,000 SMS responses from influenza vaccine recipients and parents.

New data released by AusVaxSafety show the 2018 Australian influenza vaccines are safe, with over 140,000 adults and children who have been vaccinated and participated in surveillance this year experiencing no unexpected or unusual reactions. With flu season upon us, AusVaxSafety confirms that the vaccines available this year are safe for use in individuals of all ages.

In 2018, two additional higher-immunogenicity trivalent influenza vaccines (Fluzone High-Dose and Fluad) are available free of charge via the National Immunisation Program for people aged ≥65 years. Injection site reactions, such as swelling, redness and pain, are slightly more common after vaccination with these higher-immunogenicity vaccines; however, clinical studies show that the majority of reactions are mild or moderate. This has also been confirmed by many Australians who have contributed to AusVaxSafety data this year. Influenza vaccine active surveillance results, as well as vaccine safety results for other vaccines, are available on the AusVaxSafety website.

Professor Kristine Macartney, Director NCIRS and paediatric infectious disease consultant, says, “Influenza can be a serious disease in people of all ages. It is the leading cause of hospitalisation due to a vaccine-preventable disease in Australia. After a record influenza season in 2017, demand for influenza vaccination in Australia has been very high this year, including demand for the new enhanced vaccines for older people under the National Immunisation Program. AusVaxSafety is a unique surveillance system that actively monitors the safety of each year’s new vaccines, to ensure they are performing as safely as we expect them to.”

Dr Alan Leeb, a General Practitioner from Western Australia, who co-created the Smartvax automated system that works seamlessly at immunisation provider sites to send vaccine surveys to vaccine recipients and parents, notes, “We are delighted to see such positive and encouraging feedback from hundreds of thousands of Australians; our patients who come for a vaccine really appreciate that we follow up with them.” He also added, “Importantly, with the roll out of free flu vaccines for children aged between 6 months and under five years in most states and territories this year, we have not identified any vaccine safety issues.”