New super flu vaccine developed and ready in Australia
In a world first, a new four-strain super vaccine for influenza is being offered to Australians this flu season.
The Fluad Quad1, which contains two A strains and two B strains identified as most likely to affect the southern hemisphere flu season, also has an added adjuvant to increase potency and effectiveness.
The jab, made in Australia by Seqirus, a CSL company, is the first four-strain vaccine for influenza in the world and will be free to those over 65.
Although the vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, influenza vaccination is recommended for people at high risk of complications to avoid hospitalisation at a time when the pandemic is putting unprecedented pressure on the medical system.
Flu vaccination is funded via the National Immunisation Program for people aged 65 and over as they have significantly higher rates of hospitalisation and death from influenza compared to younger adults.
The Federal Government is fast-tracking the approval of the vaccine to ensure availability for the 2020 influenza season.
In Australia, influenza causes 1,500 to 3,000 associated deaths per year on average and about 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations.
Respiratory expert Professor Brian Oliver from the Woolcock Institute highly recommended everyone get the flu vaccine this year.
"Flu every year kills an enormous number of people, we tend to ignore it as a deadly pathogen but it is quite deadly, especially for those at risk.
"If people don't get vaccinated, it will cause a lot more confusion within the health system as some symptoms overlap, for some they will have the flu and think they have COVID-19 and it may cause an overburden in the health system and it can be prevented by having the vaccination."
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said over 13.5 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccines have been secured for the NIP and the private market in 2020. adding that protecting against flu would also protect against vulnerability to COVID-19.
"Fortunately, most cases of COVID-19 in Australia so far have been mild, with only around 10 per cent of infected people requiring hospitalisation. This could change if people already made vulnerable by the flu also contract COVID-19," he said.
Annual vaccination for influenza is recommended for all people aged six months and over.
Originally published as New super flu vaccine developed and ready in Australia