GPs asked to ensure safe administration of flu vaccines to children

11 Aug 2016

Following continued reports of cases of Seqirus (formerly bioCSL) Fluvax and GSK Fluarix Tetra being incorrectly administered to children under five and three years of age respectively, the Department of Health is urging all GPs to carefully check that they are immunising children with the correct influenza vaccine according to their age.

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.

GPs are advised 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.

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