Fri, 05/08/2020 | News

Large AusVaxSafety study provides confidence in influenza vaccine use

A new large-scale AusVaxSafety study, published in JAMA Network Open, has confirmed the safety of enhanced influenza vaccines used in people 65 years and older in 2018, providing confidence in the ongoing use of influenza vaccines. 

Using the AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance data, this study, led by Alexis Pillsbury from NCIRS, analysed adverse events following immunisation with adjuvanted and high-dose trivalent influenza vaccines as reported by more than 50,000 participants using a short message service (SMS) in 2018. People who received the high-dose trivalent influenza vaccine reported slightly higher rates of adverse events such as fever, injection site pain, injection site swelling or redness than those who received the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine. However, the rates of seeking medical care were low and comparable for both groups.

Influenza is a serious illness that kills thousands of people globally each year. Annual vaccination is the most important public health measure to prevent this disease. Post-marketing vaccine safety surveillance is critical to show how a vaccine is tolerated in real-world use in large populations, and the AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance system does just that in Australia. It uses data provided by the Australian public to generate safety profiles of the different vaccines administered under the National Immunisation Program.

While the influenza vaccines assessed in this study are no longer used in Australia, this study shows the strength of the AusVaxSafety surveillance system in assuring people in almost real time that the vaccines they are receiving are well-tolerated and safe. 

AusVaxSafety is currently monitoring the safety of 2020 influenza vaccines - including the adjuvanted quadrivalent vaccine given to people aged 65 years and older. The 2020 surveillance already includes over 170,000 participants, including over 60,000 people aged 65 years and older, and rates of adverse events, including those needing medical attention, are reassuringly low.

Read the full publication here

Access the 2020 influenza vaccine safety data here.