The TGA has accepted committee recommendations for next year’s flu vaccine, which brings a new virus strain into the fold
While this year’s flu season – one of the worst on record – is only just slowing down after surpassing 200,000 confirmed cases this month, the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee recently met with the TGA to discuss which viruses should be used in the composition of next year’s influenza vaccines.
An expert committee reviewed and evaluated data related to epidemiology, characteristics of recent influenza isolates circulating in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, serological responses to 2016-2017 vaccines, and the availability of candidate vaccines viruses and reagents.
The TGA says it has accepted all of the Committee’s recommendations, one of which is that the TGA adopt the WHO recommendation issued for the 2018 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.
According to this recommendation, the trivalent influenza vaccine components for the Australian 2018 influenza season should contain the following:
- A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
- A (H3N2): an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2) like virus
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus.
The quadrivalent influenza vaccine for the Australian 2018 influenza season should contain the trivalent influenza vaccine components listed above, and the additional B strain:
- B: a B/Brisbane/60/2008 like virus.
The Committee’s recommendation for the composition of influenza vaccines for Australia in 2018 introduces a new A (H3N2) like virus strain when compared to the composition of the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines for Australia in 2017.
Meanwhile, health practitioners have called on the government to make flu vaccination available without cost to all Australians, including children.
Bastian Seidel, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, recently said that if the Government subsidised such a free vaccination program, the $250 million spent would significantly offset the cost of death and illness from the disease.
“Every year we have the same story; a new flu outbreak, the public hospitals and ambulances so stretched they can’t cope any more and, on average, 3000 deaths every year from influenza, 18,000 hospital admissions and 350,000 Australians affected by the flu,” he said.
Dr Paul Van Buynder, Chairman of the Australian Immunisation Coalition, also renewed a call for the influenza vaccine to be added to the National Immunisation Program for children.