Seasonal influenza vaccination 2020

 2 March 2020

NSW Health has reported that Government-funded influenza vaccines will start to become available to providers from early to mid-April 2020.

  • Online pre-orders of influenza vaccine will open on 9 March 2020, with distribution to commence the week starting Monday 30 March 2020. 
  • Vaccination clinics should only be scheduled once vaccine has been received.
  • A provider toolkit, including an ordering worksheet, will be available shortly. An A4 sheet and fridge basket stickers will be sent with first deliveries of vaccine.
  • Due to the large volume of flu orders at the beginning of the season it can take around four weeks for the State Vaccine Centre to send out all first flu vaccine orders.
  • Ensure you order enough vaccine for four weeks in your initial order (calculate your usage using the Influenza vaccine ordering spreadsheet).
  • When vaccine deliveries commence, vaccine orders are processed according to the date the order was placed. Immunisation providers in the same location may receive vaccine deliveries on different dates depending on the date the vaccine order was placed. We are committed to ensuring equitable access to vaccines and appreciate your patience and understanding.
  • Do not overstock your fridge to avoid unnecessary vaccine wastage in the event of a refrigerator malfunction or power failure.
  • Only NIP eligible patients should receive NIP funded vaccines.

Vaccine strains

The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee recommendation for the composition of influenza vaccines for Australia in 2020 introduces three new strains when compared to the composition of the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines for Australia in 2019: a new A (H1N1) like virus strain, a new A (H3N2) like virus strain and new strain for the B Victoria lineage.

Egg based Quadrivalent influenza vaccines:

  • an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus

Eligibility for free influenza vaccine

NSW Health is urging all people to get vaccinated this flu season to help reduce the severity and spread of flu, particularly as we are faced with the convergence of a possible COVID-19 pandemic and winter flu in the coming months.

It is therefore vital that immunisation providers prioritise NIP funded vaccines for eligible persons this flu season to ensure those at most risk of developing severe influenza and its complications receive the vaccine.

All patients aged over 5 years of age who are not eligible for NIP funded flu vaccine should be advised that they can purchase private market flu vaccine via GPs. Authorised pharmacists can also now provide flu vaccine for people aged 10 years and over.

Free seasonal influenza vaccine is funded for the following groups at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over
  • all children aged six months to less than five years of age (including Aboriginal and medically at risk)
  • pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over (Fluad® Quad is specifically designed to produce a higher immune response in this age group).
  • all individuals aged five years and over with medical risk conditions, namely:
    • cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
    • chronic respiratory conditions, including suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma
    • other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year, including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies
    • chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and seizure disorders
    • impaired immunity, including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use
    • children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy
    • all people aged 65 years and over

Influenza vaccines

Five free vaccines will be available in 2020:

  • FluQuadri™ and Vaxigrip Tetra™ for all children aged 6 months to <5 years and for eligible people aged 5 years to 64 years
  • Fluarix Tetra® for eligible* people aged 6 months to 64 years
  • Afluria Quad® for eligible* people aged 5 years to 64 years
  • Fluad Quad® for all people aged 65 years and over (specifically designed to produce a higher immune response in this age group)

An ATAGI influenza vaccine information sheet is available to assist providers with managing the various influenza vaccine presentations and eligibility for each vaccine.

Further information