News & Trends - Biotechnology

Sanofi’s vaccine for first national influenza program to target children

Health Industry Hub | April 27, 2020 |

More than a million Australian children aged between 6 months and under 5 years can now receive a FREE influenza vaccine as part of the first National Immunisation Program to include all children in this age group.

The Sanofi Pasteur influenza vaccine VAXIGRIP TETRA will be used to vaccinate these children under the 2020 National Immunisation Program (NIP), which aims to improve national immunisation coverage by providing free vaccines to eligible people.

This coincides with World Immunisation Week – celebrated 24 to 30 April – and aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. #VaccinesWork for All

Dr Sarah Chu, General Practitioner at the Turbot Street Medical Centre, Brisbane, said “Last year, in children under 5 years of age there were 36,569 reported cases of laboratory confirmed influenza and an estimated 5,000 related hospitalisations.”

Dr Chu said “There has been a lot of focus on influenza in older Australians, but hospitalisation rates in children are too high for a virus that is preventable. Vaccination remains the most effective way to protect children against influenza.”

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As Australia works to contain and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Chu said the community needs to do all it can to minimise avoidable hospitalisations, reduce transmission of influenza, and the “double-whammy of infection with influenza and the coronavirus.”

Dr Chu said that many GPs had introduced protective measures for patients visiting their clinics and that the “stay at home message does not mean foregoing vaccination ahead of the flu season. An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all Australians from 6 months and over.”

Sanofi Pasteur Australia and New Zealand Medical Director, Dr Christian Felter welcomed the extension of the NIP age range and the start of this year’s world-leading vaccination program. “A national approach to vaccinating children against influenza is a positive step – for families, the community and our health system,” he said.

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“Vaccinating children against influenza not only protects them but helps to reduce influenza transmission to other vulnerable groups in the community, including those with existing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and people aged 65 and above.”  

In previous years, free influenza vaccination under the NIP was only available to children at high risk of complications, including those with underlying health conditions and children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“This is not the year to be complacent about the influenza vaccine. It can protect you, safeguard people around you and hopefully ease the pressure on our overburdened medical system,” Dr Felter said.

This year, the four strains contained in all influenza vaccines are A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1), A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2), B/Washington/02/2019, and B/Phuket/3073/2013. 

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