As part of our commitment to improve the protection of all Australians against infectious diseases by advocating for vaccination, the Immunisation Coalition holds to the following position statements:
Influenza Vaccination Statement
In early 2018, in response to concerns that older people may respond less strongly to standard influenza vaccines, the Australian Government provided two different enhanced trivalent vaccines, free for people aged 65+. It has been announced that for the 2019 National Immunisation Program one of these two vaccines will again be available free for those aged 65+. This year (2019), the second vaccine available for people 65+ can only be obtained by private purchase.
The immunisation Coalition notes that, at this point in time there are no published studies that directly compare these two vaccines for effectiveness, and both are considered safe and effective for people aged 65+.
Vaccination is still the best way to protect the public against influenza.
Everyone over 6 months of age should receive an annual influenza vaccination to protect themselves, and to increase herd immunity within the community.
Influenza vaccine is funded as part of the National Immunisation Program for at risk groups, including people 65 and over, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
Free influenza vaccine under the NIP usually becomes available in mid-April each year and the Immunisation Coalition recommends that at-risk people book an appointment to have their vaccination when it’s available. Others who wish to protect themselves against influenza are recommended to consult their GP or pharmacist.
The ISG is in favour of expanding access to influenza vaccination for those adults not covered by the Australian Government’s free vaccine policy, including in establishments other than doctors’ surgeries (ie. workplaces, pharmacies, schools, universities etc.) provided that:
- A certified immuniser carries out the vaccination.
- The facilities, procedures and contingency requirements for dealing with and notifying any adverse events are adequate as required by state and territory authorities.
- The recipient is advised of their potential entitlement to free vaccine under the Australian Government program.
- The recipient is issued a record of the vaccination for provision to their general practitioner and other health care providers.
The ISG recognises a need for:
- An Australian national training and accreditation program for nurses and any others who may give immunisation.
- A whole of life vaccination register.
Opinions expressed in this ISG statement represent the view of the ISG board but do not necessarily represent the views of every member.
Evidence from several studies indicates that annual vaccination against seasonal influenza prevents cardiovascular morbidity and all-cause mortality in patients with cardiovascular conditions. Studies indicate that the influenza vaccine almost halves the risk of heart attacks in older adults. The Influenza Specialist Group recommends influenza immunisation after admission for Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) and as part of comprehensive secondary prevention in persons with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease. Healthcare providers who treat individuals with cardiovascular disease can help improve influenza vaccination coverage rates by providing and strongly recommending vaccination to their patients before and throughout the influenza season. Statement published: January 2014 Last reviewed: 7 October 2015
The Influenza Specialist Group (ISG) calls for healthcare workers, allied health and ancillary staff members and their employers to recognise their duty and responsibility to protect themselves, their contacts and their patients from influenza.
- The ISG supports the concept of mandatory healthcare worker (HCW) vaccination to protect HCWs and their patients from influenza, across all healthcare settings.
- The ISG supports the development of a formal national guideline that positions vaccination as a condition of employment when working in patient contact roles. This condition should be implemented in combination with strict criteria for exemptions and the wearing of surgical masks during the influenza season for those granted these exemptions.
- A national standardised system of vaccination surveillance should be developed and implemented across all healthcare.
Seasonal influenza remains the leading cause of annual vaccine-preventable disease, associated hospitalisation and death in Australia.1 The immunisation of HCW plays a significant role in preventing nosocomial transmission in healthcare settings. Although some voluntary HCW vaccination programs have been effective when combined with strong institutional leadership and robust educational campaigns, the rates of influenza vaccination amongst HCW in Australia remain suboptimal ranging from 16.3 to 58.7%. 2 The World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Australian Immunisation Handbook actively recommend annual influenza immunisation of HCWs. The ISG’s mission is to reduce the public health impact of influenza in Australia. Non-immunised HCWs put themselves and their patients at risk. Therefore the ISG supports the concept of mandatory HCW vaccination to protect HCWs and their patients from influenza, across all healthcare settings. The ISG believes that the health system should embrace HCW vaccination as a core safety practice to protect staff and patients. Therefore the ISG supports the development of a formal national guideline, that positions vaccination as a condition of employment when working in patient contact roles. This condition should be implemented in combination with strict criteria for exemptions, and the wearing of surgical masks during the influenza season for those granted these exemptions.2 The ISG recognises the need for strong governance, visible leadership support and the availability of electronic HCW vaccination records (real time data) as a critical success factor. A national standardised system of vaccination surveillance should be developed and implemented across all healthcare settings. 1.Chiu C, Dey A, Wang H, Menzies R, Deeks S, Mahajan D, et al. Vaccine preventable diseasesin Australia, 2005- Commun DisIntell 2010: 34: S1–167 2.Seale H, Raina MacIntyre C. Seasonal Influenza Vaccination in Australian hospital health care workers: a review. Med J Aust 2011; 195(6): 336–8. doi:5694/mja11.10067