The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released updated advice for influenza vaccination in 2021. Seasonal influenza virus’ may start to re-emerge and circulate in Australia with the opening of international borders.
Due to the COVID-19 public health and social measures in Australia and internationally, the seasonal pattern of influenza was different in 2020 and 2021 from previous years, with considerably lower influenza virus circulation. Influenza vaccine coverage in Australia in 2021 has been lower compared to 2020.
With borders reopening from November 2021 and greater population movement, a resurgence of influenza activity is expected (outside of the usual influenza season).
Influenza vaccination with the 2021 vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 6 months and over who has not had an influenza vaccine this year, particularly those in higher risk groups.
It is also recommended those planning international travel receive the 2021 influenza vaccination before departure.
Co-administration with COVID-19 vaccines
Influenza vaccines can be co-administered with COVID-19 vaccines. Subject to availability of influenza vaccines, an ideal time to vaccinate could be on the same day as a COVID-19 booster vaccine.
Expiry of 2021 influenza vaccines
2021 influenza vaccines should continue to be offered as long as valid, unexpired vaccine is available. Some vaccine brands now have expiry dates up to late February 2022.
Immunisation providers should check a vaccine’s expiry date before administration and not issue expired vaccines.
The full ATAGI statement contains further detail.