15th National Immunisation Conference 2016

The 15th National Immunisation Conference was held in Brisbane in June 2016. This year’s theme “Immunisation: the jigsaw – fitting the pieces two decades on” celebrated 20 years since the 7 Point Plan was announced as a comprehensive package of measures under the headline banner of Immunise Australia. This was also the time that the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) commenced operation. Here are some highlights from the conference presentations.

Vaccine safety

Australian surveillance of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) data shows there were 3,087 AEFI reports for vaccines administered in 2014; an annual AEFI reporting rate of 13.2 per 100,000 population. The most commonly reported reactions are shown in the graph below. The majority of AEFI reports describe non-serious events, approximately 7% were classified as serious.

General practice is the corner stone of a successful vaccine safety surveillance system, please continue to report all suspected AEFIs to the Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.


Influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations coverage in Australian adults

A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining vaccination coverage in Australian adults from 1990-2015 shows the estimated influenza vaccination coverage was 74.8% (95%CI:73.4%-76.2%); pneumococcal coverage was 56% (95%CI: 53.2%-58.8%).

Both adult influenza and pneumococcal vaccination coverage is sub-optimal, especially for pneumococcal vaccination.

Immunisation in pregnancy

Vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect newborn babies who are most at risk because they cannot be vaccinated until they are at least six weeks of age. The FluMum study of 9,955 mother-infant pairs from six cities in Australia found that the influenza vaccine uptake during pregnancy was 33% for 2012-2014 and 45% for 2015. Pertussis vaccine uptake in pregnancy was 3% in 2014 and 45% in 2015.

Offering vaccination during pregnancy, in every pregnancy is critical, as is the ongoing monitoring of safety, effectiveness and the impact on disease burden.

How accurate is ACIR?

A study in WA in 2014-2015 of 508 parents of children who were partially vaccinated according to ACIR shows that 49% of them were in fact up-to date with their immunisation. In 2015, another study of 527 children's influenza vaccine status shows the sensitivity of ACIR to identify true vaccination status was 74%.

Inaccurate records will impact on reported vaccination coverage rates and affect individual family assistance payments.