Further delay for flu vaccine release

The National Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Program for 2015 has now been delayed to 20 April instead of 15 April, a federal department of health spokesperson said today. The usual start date is in mid-March.

Professor Robert Booy, infectious diseases paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital, Westmead and head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) said the main reason for the delay is because the 2015 southern hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccine, containing three flu strains, will require two strain changes from the 2014 vaccine.

According to a department of health spokesperson, this double-strain change, which is an unusual occurrence, has caused manufacturing delays due to the time it takes to develop, test and distribute the reagents needed to make the vaccine.

This year’s formulation will contain two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2-like virus, as well as the B/Phuket