Influenza Guide

Be an advocate for vaccination. People are more likely to get the influenza vaccination if it is recommended by you, the GP.

Immunisation Coalition

About Influenza

Influenza and PregnancyInfluenza is a potentially fatal disease that is estimated to cause 1500 – 3000 deaths in Australia annually.

Health Professionals have an important role in prompting patients to consider the benefits of influenza vaccination and addressing concerns about efficacy and safety.

The guide for health professionals provides useful information about influenza and vaccination, along with tips on how to facilitate influenza vaccination programs in general practice.

Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

As of 1 March 2021, it is mandatory to upload influenza vaccinations administered to the AIR.1

If you wish to download a PDF version of the 2021 guide, click here.

Influenza and the NIP

Free influenza vaccine is available under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for people in the following risk groups:

  • Older adults (65+)
  • Children aged between 6 months and less than 5 years old
  • Indigenous Australians
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 6 months and over with medical conditions that can lead to complications from influenza (such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, chronic neurological disease, renal and metabolic disease, and impaired immunity).

Age, health lifestyle and occupation (HALO) can also put people at high risk of influenza complications. These include:

  • obesity
  • stroke
  • tobacco smoking
  • down syndrome
  • residents of nursing homes and other long term facilities
  • homeless people

For more information about the NIP visit: www.health.gov.au/immunisation or contact your state/territory health department:

ACT: (02) 6205 2300
NSW: 1300 066 055
NT: (08) 8922 8044
SA: 1300 232 272
TAS: 1800 671 738
VIC: 1300 882 008
WA: (08) 9321 1312
QLD: Contact your local Public Health Unit

Timing of Vaccinations

Vaccination is encouraged throughout the influenza season. However pregnant women and residents of northern Australia should be offered the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

The duration of protection for elderly people is shorter, with optimal protection occurring in the first 3 to 4 months after vaccination.

Influenza and Heart Attacks

Evidence from several studies indicates that annual vaccination against seasonal influenza reduces cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with cardiovascular conditions. Studies indicate that the influenza vaccine almost halves the risk of heart attacks in older adults.

GPs who treat individuals with cardiovascular disease can help improve influenza vaccination coverage rates by asking about vaccination status, strongly recommending and providing vaccination to their patients before and throughout the influenza season.

Influenza and COVID-19

COVID-19 and influenza are both serious respiratory infections. It is therefore essential that patients are immunised against influenza at the earliest opportunity, particularly those most at risk.

If the first COVID-19 vaccination has already been given, remember to wait 2 weeks before and after giving the flu shot.

2021 Influenza vaccines available for use in Australia

Discard 2020 Influenza Vaccine

Remember to discard the prior year’s Influenza Vaccine.

Seasonal influenza vaccines available for use in Australia in 2021, by age:2

Age GroupVaxigrip Tetra - 0.5mL (Sanofi)Fluarix Tetra - 0.5mL (GSK)FluQuadri - 0.5mL (Sanofi)Influvac Tetra - 0.50mL (Mylan)Afluria Quad - 0.5ml (Seqirus)Flucelvax Quad - 0.5mL (Seqirus)Fluad Quad - 0.5mL (Seqirus)
6 to 35 Months (<3 Years)✔*✔*
≥3 to <5 Years✔*✔*
≥5 to <9 Years✔**✔**✔**
≥9 to <65 Years✔**✔**✔**
≥65 Years✔*

Ticks indicate age at which a vaccine is registered and available.

* Vaccine is funded under the NIP for eligible people.
** NIP funding only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women and people who have certain medial conditions

 

Vaccine Composition

Southern Hemisphere Vaccine Composition

Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) statement on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2021 is available here.

The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) met on Wednesday 7th October 2020, to recommend the composition of the influenza virus vaccines for 2021. At this meeting, the expert committee reviewed and evaluated data related to epidemiology, antigenic and genetic characteristics of recent influenza isolates circulating in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, serological responses to the 2019-2020 vaccines, and the availability of candidate vaccines viruses and reagents.

The committee recommended that the following viruses be included in quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2021 Southern Hemisphere influenza season:

Egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccines:

  • an A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.

Cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccines:

  • an A/Wisconsin/588/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

To view the WHO full report on the recommended influenza vaccines for the southern hemisphere in 2021, click here.

Northern Hemisphere Vaccine Composition

The WHO recommendation on the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the northern hemisphere 2020-2021 was on 28 February 2020, following a 3-day WHO Consultation with Advisers from WHO CCs and WHO ERLs based on year-round surveillance by the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).

 It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2020-2021 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

Quadrivalent Egg-based Vaccines:

  • an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

Quadrivalent Cell- or recombinant-based Vaccines:

  • an A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

 It is recommended that trivalent influenza vaccines for use in the 2020-2021 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

Trivalent Egg-based Vaccines:

  • an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus.

Trivalent Cell- or recombinant-based Vaccines:

  • an A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus.
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2. ATAGI Advice on Season Influenza Vaccines in 2021: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/atagi-advice-on-seasonal-influenza-vaccines-in-2021, Published 3 March 2021

Influenza and Pregnancy

Influenza is a potentially severe disease that can affect mother and baby. It can affect the mother in the second and third trimesters and the baby in the first few months after birth, even causing death.

Read more about influenza vaccination while pregnant here.

Influenza and Children

The influenza vaccination is funded under the NIP for children aged between 6 months and less than 5 years of age. The vaccines available for children under the NIP this year are:

Vaxigrip Tetra® 0.5ml for those aged 6 months and older.
Fluarix® Tetra 0.5ml for those aged 6 months and older.
Afluria®Quad 0.5ml for those aged 5 years and older.

Other children with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk of severe complications from influenza may also be eligible for free vaccine under the NIP.

Co-administration with other vaccines

Influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as Zostavax and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines, using separate syringes and injection sites.3

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3. Adult vaccination: vaccines for Australian adults, NCIRS Fact sheet: October 2017

Page Published: 17 March 2021 | Page Updated: 9 June 2021