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2019 influenza vaccines are safe, confirms active surveillance

New data released by AusVaxSafety, Australia’s active vaccine safety surveillance program, have confirmed the safety of the 2019 Australian influenza vaccines. 200,000 vaccinated adults and children have participated in AusVaxSafety surveillance this year and reported no unexpected or unusual reactions. With the flu season well underway, these data reassure that the 2019 influenza vaccines are safe for all ages.

In 2019, Flu Quadri and Fluarix Tetra are available free to eligible people younger than 65 years under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). For those aged 65 years and older two higher-immunogenicity trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) formulations are available, with Fluad® funded under the NIP. Injection site reactions such as swelling, redness, and pain are slightly more common with the higher-immunogenicity vaccines; however, most reactions are mild or moderate, as reported to AusVaxSafety by more than 65,000 older Australians, with the oldest participant being 105 years of age.

Professor Kristine Macartney, NCIRS Director and paediatric infectious diseases specialist, says, “Influenza can be a serious disease in people of all ages. We have already seen a large number of influenza cases across Australia this year, and in some previously healthy people, the disease has been fatal. It is re-assuring for the whole community that the 2019 vaccines are performing as safely and effectively as we expect them to.” 

AusVaxSafety’s world leading surveillance system facilitates early detection of potential vaccine safety issues, using de-identified information reported directly from people receiving the vaccines (or their parent or carer). In the days following vaccination, responses are provided to an SMS survey sent by AusVaxSafety surveillance tools, SmartVax or Vaxtracker, from more than 300 immunisation clinics across Australia.

Dr Alan Leeb, a general practitioner from Western Australia and co-creator of SmartVax, commented, “We are delighted to see such a high number of Australians who have contributed to the influenza safety data this year, ultimately instilling confidence in those who receive the vaccine. With such high numbers of influenza cases already this year and the peak still to come, we urge all Australians to get vaccinated.”  

Influenza vaccine active surveillance results for the 2019 vaccines are updated weekly and uploaded to the AusVaxSafety website for healthcare providers and the general public to view.