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In this issue:

  • 2021 influenza vaccine program
  • Influenza vaccine season tips
  • Nurse immuniser and Pharmacist immuniser – COVID-19 vaccine Secretary Approvals
  • Immunisation recommendations for the older population
  • FAQ – If an adolescent has had a MenACWY vaccine in the past, should they receive a dose now?
  • Upskill in vaccine cold chain by viewing the webinar plus common issues
  • Links to further information

2021 influenza vaccine program

2021 influenza vaccine funded eligible cohorts:

  • children aged from 6 months to less than 5 years;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged from 6 months;
  • pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy) and up until the expiry date on the vaccine;
  • adults aged 65 years and over;
  • persons aged from 6 months who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications; such as, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes.

Vaccine brands supplied and age restrictions:

Ages 6 months to less than 5 years:

  • Vaxigrip Tetra® (Sanofi Pasteur)
  • Fluarix® Tetra (GSK)

Ages 5 years to less than 65 years:

  • Vaxigrip Tetra® (Sanofi Pasteur)
  • Fluarix® Tetra (GSK)
  • Afluria® Quad (Seqirus)

Ages 65 years and older:

  • Fluad® Quad (Seqirus)

The dose of influenza vaccine for all ages is 0.5ml.

COVID-19 vaccination – ATAGI advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines

Influenza vaccine season tips

  • Discard all expired 2020 influenza vaccine
  • Do not book patients for vaccination until stock is received
  • On receipt of the pre-allocation of influenza vaccine, an order for influenza vaccine for all eligible groups can be submitted. Orders will be processed from the week starting 5 April 2021
  • Plan and allow 5 standard business (public holidays are not standard) days for vaccine deliveries during flu season
  • Vaccine orders may be adjusted to ensure stock supply throughout the influenza season
  • Do not overstock your vaccine fridge. Overstocking increases the risk of a cold chain breach
  • It is mandatory to report influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)
  • Reporting to AIR in a timely manner assists in the allocation of influenza vaccine doses based on use.

Use the updated government vaccine order form to order the 2021 influenza vaccines.

Nurse immuniser and Pharmacist immuniser – COVID-19 vaccine Secretary Approvals

Time-limited Secretary Approvals, Nurse Immuniser – SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) VACCINE, and Pharmacist Immuniser – SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) VACCINE are now in place.

These Approvals authorise possession and administration of any SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) VACCINE approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (COVID-19 VACCINE) in accordance with the conditions outlined in the Approval until 20 February 2022 (inclusive), unless revoked earlier.

The Secretary Approvals are also accessible via the Medicines and Poisons – Secretary Approvals webpage.

Immunisation recommendations for the older population

The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre fact sheet recommends vaccines and considers factors affecting vaccination of the older population such as:

  • a gradual decline of the immune system
  • effectiveness of long-term immune memory
  • specific medical conditions or targeted therapies (e.g. chronic renal conditions, chemotherapy for cancers) causing vulnerability to infections and complications
  • relying on patient recall
  • lack of awareness for the recommended vaccines resulting in missed vaccines or unnecessary doses being administered.

FAQ – If an adolescent has had a MenACWY vaccine in the past, should they receive a dose now?

An adolescent who has had a dose of MenACWY vaccine in the past and is now eligible for a dose can receive a free dose of MenACWY vaccine, even if the previous dose was within the past 5 years. There must be a gap of at least 8 weeks since the last dose.

Repeat vaccination can offer a benefit by boosting immunity and does not increase the risk of experiencing side effects.

Adolescents who have previously received a polysaccharide meningococcal vaccine (at any age), which would have provided protection for only a limited period, can be and are recommended to be vaccinated with MenACWY vaccine now, provided at least 6 months have passed since they received the last dose of polysaccharide vaccine.

Free catch-up vaccines can be ordered for people aged under 20 years.

Did you know you can read the Australian Immunisation Register due and overdue rules?

Upskill in vaccine cold chain by viewing the webinar plus common issues

Common examples of vaccine cold chain mismanagement issues include:

Untrained staff:

  • having responsibility for cold chain management.

Incorrect use of vaccine storage equipment:

  • fail to reset min/max temperature display
  • data logger not set to read at 5-minute intervals, not downloaded weekly or when a temperature excursion is identified

Inadequate vaccine storage and maintenance:

  • using a domestic fridge instead of a purpose-built vaccine fridge
  • annual fridge service not performed
  • data logger not working, or not serviced annually or no data logger in use
  • no back-up plan to transfer stock to another monitored purpose-built vaccine fridge or inadequate coolers and ice/gel packs.

Download the resource collection in the National vaccine storage guidelines – Strive for 5 to aid education.

Conduct a vaccine storage self-audit, see Appendix 2 in the National vaccine storage guidelines – Strive for 5.

Learn strategies to manage a power outage or mechanical failure of the fridge

Useful links

COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance at a glance from AusVaxSafety.

MVEC's next free CVU mini event is Monday 12 April 2021, 7pm – 8:30pm. Hear the latest information on Influenza in 2021, Allergies and COVID-19 vaccines, and an update on the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Bexsero vaccine is recommended and free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants as part of their routine vaccinations at 2, 4 and 12 months of age. If a child missed out, they can still get Bexsero for free until they turn 2 years of age. This catch-up program finishes on 30 June 2023.

Subscribe to National Immunisation Program updates with the Australian government, Department of Health.


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