2016 Influenza Vaccine Early Report: good safety profile in children

17 May 2016


With winter coming soon, it’s time for parents and children to be vaccinated against influenza to be vaccinated against influenza now. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that is responsible for thousands of children and adults of all ages each year being admitted to hospital in Australia.

Active vaccine safety surveillance is conducted nationally in young children to monitor for the type and rate of reactions to each year’s new influenza vaccine. This program is called AusVaxSafety* and was led by The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), in collaboration with 100 locations across Australia.  As of mid-May 2016, the families of more than 1200 children aged 6 months to 5 years from more than 100 ‘sentinel’ locations across Australia have responded to SMS or email messages to give us feedback on how their child felt days after vaccination.

This is the first year that the new quadrivalent vaccines (containing 2 influenza A and 2 influenza B strains) are being provided under the National Immunisation Program.

Results of this surveillance indicate that the safety profile of the 2016 influenza vaccines in children is excellent and the type and rate of vaccine reactions is within usual limits. Only 9% of participants have reported any reaction. Reactions recorded have been mild and resolved within 1-2 days. The most commonly reported symptoms include tiredness, irritability and pain, swelling or redness at the injection site. A fever was reported in less than 3% of children. A small proportion of children (1%) have sought medical attention for symptoms following immunisation, and these have generally not been directly related to vaccination.

No vaccine-attributable serious adverse events have been recorded for the patients in this program. It is also important to note that safety demonstrated in children provides assurance that the vaccine is safe amongst all age groups.

All Australians can benefit from receiving influenza vaccine. Across Australia, health departments, clinicians and other researchers are conducting ongoing surveillance activities to monitor vaccine uptake, safety and effectiveness, and influenza activity. The success of AusVaxSafety surveillance is due to the active engagement of the public whose participation allows for real-time feedback on the safety of each year’s influenza vaccine.


*AusVaxSafety surveillance is a collaborative initiative led by the National Centre for Immunisation, Research and Surveillance (NCIRS; www.ncirs.edu.au) and involves vaccine safety experts, state and territory public health systems, general practitioners and children’s hospitals across Australia. It is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. AusVaxSafety partners with and makes use of several computer-based surveillance systems, Vaxtracker, SmartVax, and STARSS, which send SMSs or web-based surveys to parents and carers seeking information on how their child felt after receiving the influenza vaccine. Results from 2015 AusVaxSafety influenza surveillance are available here or at the NCIRS website.

NCIRS is located at Kids Research Institute, the research arm of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.


Available for Interview: A/Prof Kristine Macartney. Deputy Director, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance
Associate Professor, Discipline of Child & Adolescent Health, University of Sydney
Staff Specialist, Department of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, CHW


Contact: Public Relations, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead  02 9845 3569 or after hours  02 9845 0000 and ask for the on-call media officer.


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