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Misinformation on trivalent flu vaccine causes a stir

The facts are clear: the trivalent flu vaccine is the best form of protection against flu for older Queenslanders.

Medical Director of the Immunisation Program Dr Alun Richards said recent media articles have spread misinformation and caused a bit of a stir in a small portion of the community.

“There has been some concern from older Queenslanders, due to misinformation, that the trivalent flu vaccine won’t protect them against flu as well as the standard quadrivalent vaccine,” he said.

“I would like to reassure people aged 65 years and older that the best protection for you against flu this season is the enhanced trivalent vaccine.

“Global experts recommend the trivalent vaccine for this cohort for several important reasons.

“Older people do not respond as well to standard influenza vaccine as the immune system response to influenza vaccine decreases with age.

“The enhanced vaccine is designed specifically to increase the immune system’s response to vaccine, especially against influenza A (H3N2) strain which is more common and severe in people aged 65 and older.

Dr Richards said the enhanced vaccine provides a stronger defence against two ‘A’ strains and one ‘B’ strain.

“Australian surveillance data shows those aged 65 years and older are affected more by ‘A’ strains that are circulating in the community, than they are by ‘B’ strains,” he said.

“Research also shows that older people tend to have a level of immunity to B strains because of exposure to these strains in previous seasons.

“Although the enhanced vaccine contains one less B strain virus, the benefits of better and broader protection against the strains included will outweigh any potential loss of protection against the missing alternative B strain virus.”

Dr Richards said there are reports of older Queenslanders getting the standard quadrivalent vaccine after they’ve already received the trivalent vaccine.

“Queensland Health does not recommend obtaining the two vaccines as it is not necessary,” he said.

“Additionally, the use of multiple types of vaccines in one season has not yet been studied.

“While not recommended, administration of both vaccine types to an individual is not contraindicated, so if anyone has already received both vaccines, there are no serious safety concerns.”

Dr Richards encourages anyone aged 65 years and older who hasn’t received their trivalent flu vaccination to book an appointment with their GP.

“People aged 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from influenza infection, and have the highest influenza-associated death rates each year,” he said.

“It’s very important for this cohort to talk to their GP about getting vaccinated against flu.

“The trivalent flu vaccine is available free of charge to people aged 65 years and older under the National Immunisation Program.”

ENDS

Media contact:               3708 5376

Last updated: 4 May 2018