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In this issue:

  • Promote influenza vaccine – coverage is lower overall than in 2020
  • Monitor vaccine expiry dates and report accurately to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)
  • Check you are using the correct vaccine for age
  • Hepatitis B vaccine – who is eligible for free vaccine?
  • Vaccine cold chain audits – be prepared
  • Manage immunisation for children and adolescents in out-of-home care

Promote influenza vaccine – coverage is lower than in 2020

Influenza vaccine is free for all Indigenous people from 6 months of age and vaccine doses distributed to Aboriginal health services is significantly down since 2020:

2021 - 5,858
2020 - 10,860
2019 - 6,180

All children aged 6 months to less than 5 years are eligible for free influenza vaccine. Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) data coverage is down in 2021 for this cohort too. Children vaccinated:

2021 – 16.3%
2020 – 33.1%

Report vaccines to the AIR promptly.

Download the fact sheet Influenza vaccination during COVID-19 pandemic - FAQs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help promote this population to be protected.

An important update regarding the timing between receipt of the COVID-19 and other vaccines, including seasonal influenza has been released by Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

A suite of resources to promote influenza including clinical advice are available from the Australian government.

Influenza disease and vaccination in children in Australia
Samantha J Carlson, Christopher C Blyth, Frank H Beard, Alexandra J Hendry, Allen C Cheng, Helen E Quinn, Julie Leask and Kristine Macartney
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51100


Monitor vaccine expiry dates and report accurately to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

All vaccination providers should report all vaccinations administered to the AIR.

Don’t let your patients think they have received expired vaccine. Issues arise due to incorrect batch numbers being
reported to the AIR when some clinical information software stores and/or auto-fills previously entered information, which lead to data entry errors when this old information is being used and not confirmed to be current, prior to AIR submission.

Review the fact sheet about reporting vaccinations to the AIR


Check you are using the correct vaccine for age

Different vaccine brands are registered for use in certain age cohorts. Vaccine error occurs when a vaccine brand for children is administered to adults and vice versa requiring revaccination in some instances.

Check you are using the correct DTPa and dTpa containing vaccines

Check you are using the correct Meningococcal vaccines

Check you are using the correct MMR containing vaccines

Check you are using the correct Pneumococcal vaccines

Check you are using the correct Varicella containing vaccines

Learn how to prevent vaccine error administration, management of an error and open disclosure – undertake the new eLearning course from the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre.

View a short video on how to report an adverse event following immunisation to SAEFVIC (Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination In the Community).


Hepatitis B vaccine – who is eligible for free vaccine?

Free hepatitis B vaccines are available including for non-Medicare card holders:

  • Catch-up under 20 years of age
  • Refugees, humanitarian entrants, asylum seekers
  • People at risk of hepatitis B infection:
    • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – hepatitis B non-immune
    • Household contacts and sexual partners of people living with hepatitis B
    • People who inject drugs or are on opioid substitution therapy
    • People living with Hepatitis C
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People living with HIV
    • People no longer in a custodial setting who did not complete the course
    • People born in priority hepatitis B endemic countries and arrived in Australia in the last 10 years. (China, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Thailand, South Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cambodia).

Download the Victorian immunisation schedule as a reminder for vaccine eligibility.


Vaccine cold chain audits – be prepared

Vaccines are fragile and expensive biological products that must be stored correctly to ensure efficacy. Weather events, equipment breakdown and human error cause vaccines to be exposed to a cold chain breach which can lead to vaccine wastage, delay in vaccination, or recall and revaccination of patients.

In preparation for the future of COVID-19 vaccination by all vaccine providers, the Immunisation Unit is selecting services to be audited on their vaccine cold chain management.

Review and implement vaccine cold chain protocols to apply best practice.

Read the RACGP Standards for general practices - Maintaining vaccine potency to check your medical centre is current.

Mobile and emergency vaccine storage equipment is vital when an unexpected cold chain breach occurs.


Manage immunisation for children and adolescents in out-of-home care

Factsheets are available for carers, immunisation providers, child protection staff and case managers in community service organisations about immunisation for children in out-of-home care. 

Topics include:

  • immunisation is routine medical care and why it is important
  • gaining consent, and mature minor consent
  • how to find if a child is up to date with their immunisation
  • immunisation requirements for benefits and payments and to enrol the child in childcare, kindergarten, primary and secondary school.

Plan immunisation catch-up for children under 10 years of age.

Plan immunisation catch-up for children aged 10 years and older.

More links

Bookmark the Australian Academy of Science: The Science of Immunisation looks at the benefits, safety, and ingredients of vaccines and what the future holds for vaccination. It was developed by a working group of leading scientists, doctors, communicators and experts.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has released a statement on key successes, trends and challenges in the use of vaccines and control of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2020. It also signals priority actions for addressing key issues for 2021 and beyond.

Download and display a quick reference list of popular immunisation contacts and resources relating to immunisation activity.

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