Push to fund active surveillance of flu vax

While research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, reporting on a federally funded active surveillance pilot program, provides reassuring evidence about the safety of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine, researchers argue that active surveillance should now become a routinely funded component of the national immunisation program.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Heath Kelly, head of the epidemiology unit at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, said the experience of 2010 – when vaccines manufactured by bioCSL were shown to cause fever at 5–10 times the previously accepted risk levels and febrile convulsions at 200 times higher levels – highlighted the need for a nationally funded active influenza vaccine surveillance program to pick up unexpected safety signals in real time.

“Safety is assumed from the absence of prior reported events. However, the experience from 2010