Recommendations for the 2014 influenza season

This page contains information for health professionals about the vaccination recommendations for the 2014 influenza season.

Information for consumers about flu vaccines can be found on our Vaccines and immunisation hub.

More general information about vaccination for consumers is available in our Vaccines and immunisation hub.

Why vaccinate?

Influenza can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization and may even lead to death.

People at most risk of complications from influenza include those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as chronic lung and heart disease, the elderly and pregnant women.

Even healthy people can get severe influenza and vaccination is the single best way to protect against the disease.

In Australia, there are, on average, 85 deaths and over 4,000 hospitalisations due to influenza illness each year although this is based on notifications only and is recognised as an underestimate.1 Other approximations of burden have estimated that 13,500 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths occur annually in Australia due to influenza in the over 50 age group alone.1

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has advised that changes to two of the strains of influenza have emerged in the past year, so the composition of influenza vaccines for Australia has been changed from 2013 to 2014.2

People who were vaccinated in 2013 still need to be vaccinated in 2014 to ensure continuing protection.3

Influenza vaccines and adverse event rates

During the 2010 influenza season an excess of febrile reactions occurred in children under 5 after immunisation with Fluvax. Since 2010 Fluvax is no longer approved in Australia for children under 5 years of age.3,4 There has been no excess rate of adverse events reported for the four vaccines approved for use from 6 months of age in the upcoming influenza season.3,4

The influenza strains in the 2014 vaccines have been altered to reflect those used in the northern hemisphere influenza season. The TGA is closely reviewing surveillance data from the northern hemisphere to ensure there have been no unexpected adverse events related to these strains.4

Health professionals are encouraged to report all adverse events associated with influenza vaccination to the TGA or through state/territory-based arrangements.

Which vaccines are currently approved by the TGA?4,5

Children aged 6 months to 5 years must not receive bioCSL Fluvax

From the age of 6 months

In 2014 there are four different influenza vaccines registered for use in Australia in children from the age of 6 months:

  • Agrippal (Novartis)
  • Fluarix (GSK)
  • Influvac (Abbott)A
  • Vaxigrip (Sanofi Pasteur)A
A. These vaccines also have a paediatric ('Junior') presentation registered for use in children aged 6 to 35 months.

From the age of 5 years

An additional vaccine has been approved but only for use in children over 5 years of age:

  • Fluvax (CSL)

Since febrile events have been observed in children aged 5–9 years following immunisation with Fluvax, this vaccine should only be used in children less than 10 years of age if one of the other alternative vaccines is not readily available. A decision to vaccinate children between the ages of 5–10 years with the 2014 Fluvax vaccine should be based on careful consideration of potential benefits and risks in the individual.3

For adults aged 18–59 years

  • Intanza (Sanofi-Pasteur)

Which vaccines are free?

In 2014, certain vaccines are funded under the National Immunisation Program.6

From the age of 6 months

  • Fluarix (GSK)
  • Vaxigrip (Sanofi Pasteur)B
B. The 'Junior' formulation is preferred for children 6–35 months of age.

From the age of 10 years

  • Fluvax (CSL)

Read our information for consumers about flu vaccines and safety in children.

Who is eligible for free influenza vaccination?

Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) the following people are eligible to receive free influenza vaccine in 2014.6
All individuals aged 65 years and over
People aged 15 years and over who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
Pregnant women
Individuals aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza, 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 6 months to 10 years on long-term aspirin therapy

    What are the likely side effects?

    The most common side effects from influenza vaccination are:
    • pain, redness, swelling and transient induration at the injection site
    • mild febrile response
    • mild myalgia, arthralgia
    • drowsiness or tiredness.1

    These effects, if they occur, usually only last for one or two days. They may be more pronounced in children under 5 years.1,4

    Co-administration of influenza with other vaccines

    Influenza vaccines may be co-administered with other vaccines however, there may be a small increase in risk of fever and febrile convulsions with concurrent administration of inactivated influenza vaccine and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (13vPCV) in children aged 6 months to 5 years, but especially in those aged 12–24 months.3

    1. Australian Government Department of Health Immunise Australia Program. Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th Edition. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).
    2. Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration. AIVC recommendations for the composition of the influenza vaccine for Australia in 2014. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).
    3. Australian Government Department of Health Immunise Australia Program. Clinical advice for immunisation providers regarding the administration of 2014 seasonal influenza vaccines March 2014. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).
    4. Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration. 2014 seasonal influenza vaccines for use in children. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).
    5. Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration. 2014 seasonal influenza vaccines. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).
    6. Australian Government Department of Health Immunise Australia Program. Influenza fact sheet for immunisation providers. 2014. [Online] (accessed 31 March 2014).