Be vaccine aware

29 Sep 2016

The Department of Health has advised that as at 15 September 2016, there have been 97 confirmed cases of GSK’s Fluarix Tetra being administered to children under three years of age and 10 confirmed cases of Seqirus (bioCSL) Fluvax administered to children under five years of age for the 2016 influenza season. While the number of new confirmed cases and incoming reported cases is now beginning to decline ongoing vigilance is required and doctors and nurses who provide immunisations are encouraged to be vaccine aware.

It is advisable to ensure that the warning labels that come with the vaccines are placed in a highly visible place, such as the fridge door. It is also suggested that practices ensure all staff who administer flu vaccines understand the restrictions and warnings for GSK Fluarix Tetra and Seqirus Fluvax.

GSK Fluarix Tetra must not be administered to children under 3 years of age and Seqirus Fluvax brand TIV is not recommended for use in children under 9 years of age.

Since late 2010, Fluvax has not been registered for use in children aged less than five years because it causes unacceptably high rates of adverse events, specifically fevers and febrile convulsions, in children of this age. If Fluvax is administered to a child under five years of age, this constitutes “off-label” use which exposes providers to legal risk.

Furthermore, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation does not recommend the use of Fluvax in children aged five to nine years due to an increased risk of fever in this age group. Note that Seqirus Fluvax is not available under the National Immunisation Program.

Further information is available from the Immunise Australia Program website and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.