ABC: A surge in influenza cases in Queensland prompts doctors to issue vaccine warning for children and vulnerable groups

Experts warn that children are increasingly more vulnerable to influenza disease this year. MVEC’s paediatric infectious disease specialist Dr Angela Berkhout explains that children, particularly those under two years of age have low levels of natural immunity to flu as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  

While flu season has yet to peak, hospitals in Queensland have already experienced an influx in the number of flu patients requiring hospital admission, including intensive care. This article explores key considerations for vaccinating children, seniors over the age of 65 years and other vulnerable groups.  

To read the full article, follow the link below:  

ABC: A surge in influenza cases in Queensland prompts doctors to issue vaccine warning for children and vulnerable groups

For the more information on influenza vaccines and the 2022 influenza season please see our resources below: 

MVEC: Influenza 

MVEC: Influenza FAQs

 


New immunisation reference page: Febrile seizures (Febrile convulsions)

Febrile seizures are typically triggered by a sudden rise in temperature and more commonly occur in very young children.  Febrile seizures can be classified as simple or complex, with 1 in 30 children experiencing a febrile seizure at some point during their childhood.  

Although vaccines can cause fevers, febrile seizures following vaccination are not common.  

Our new reference page provides an overview of febrile seizures and outlines the recommendations following a vaccine proximate seizure.  

To read more follow the link below: 

MVEC: Febrile seizures (Febrile convulsions)


ATAGI Advice on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose intervals and COVID-19 vaccination post infection

ATAGI have provided updated advice on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose intervals and COVID-19 vaccination post infection. 

It is now recommended that the dose interval between primary doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be extended to 8 weeks, with the extended dose interval shown to improve effectiveness and immune response to vaccination, as well as potentially also reduce the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. 

ATAGI have also recommended that COVID-19 vaccination is deferred 3 months following COVID-19 infection to optimise protection.

To read the updated recommendations in full, please click on the link below. 

ATAGI Advice on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose intervals and COVID-19 vaccination post infection


SMH: The flu shot: when is it safe to get it after having COVID?

With flu season underway in Australia and an increasing number of cases already confirmed, people are encouraged not to delay their yearly influenza vaccine, which is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and over. 

The article features MVEC’s A/Prof Nigel Crawford, who addresses the key considerations such as ideal timing for the influenza vaccination, considerations for people with underlying medical conditions, advice for parents regarding children, and when to get the influenza vaccine post COVID-19 infection. 

To read the article in full, please click on the link below: 

SMH: The flu shot: when is it safe to get it after having COVID?

For the more information on influenza vaccines and the 2022 influenza season please see our resources below: 

MVEC: Influenza 

MVEC: Influenza FAQs

 


ATAGI statement on recommendations on a winter booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine

As part of winter preparedness, ATAGI have provided recommendations for an additional COVID-19 vaccine winter booster dose for select groups who have been identified as being at highest risk of severe COVID-19 disease. These groups include: 

  • individuals aged ≥ 65 years   
  • residents of aged care or disability care facilities  
  • individuals aged ≥ 16 years with severe immunocompromise 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged ≥ 50 years. 

The rollout of winter booster doses will commence from April in line with the 2022 influenza vaccination program, with both vaccines able to be co-administered where appropriate. Winter booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be administered from ≥ 4 months since the previous booster dose/confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (whichever is later).

mRNA vaccines (Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna)) remain the recommended brands for use as booster doses, with Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) available for those who have a contraindication to mRNA vaccines. Nuvaxovid (Novavax) may be used in circumstances where no other vaccine brand is deemed suitable.

ATAGI suggests that there is currently insufficient evidence at this time to support a recommendation for additional boosters for other individuals. For these groups, protection from a primary course of COVID-19 vaccine followed by 1 booster dose continues to provide good protection against hospitalisation with COVID-19 disease. Further recommendations may be considered in the future as more evidence emerges.

To read the advice in full please follow the link below.  

ATAGI statement on recommendations on a winter booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine


The Conversation: Flu, COVID and flurona: what we can and can’t expect this winter

With international borders open and public health measures alleviated, it is highly likely that COVID-19 and influenza will be circulating simultaneously in Australian communities this coming winter. 

This article addresses some probable outcomes and provides helpful tips on how people can protect themselves during this flu season.  

Click on the link below to read the full article: 

Flu, COVID and flurona: what we can and can’t expect this winter 


The New York Times: In Africa, a Mix of Shots Drives an Uncertain Covid Vaccination Push

While many wealthy countries are well on track with their COVID-19 booster rollout using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, African countries continue to rely on products and dosing schedules that many researchers believe render lower vaccine efficacy.  

With COVID vaccination rates averaging about 14% across the continent, experts reveal that there are several barriers to vaccination to consider and warn that a fifth, potentially more lethal wave is imminent.  

Follow the link below to read the full article: 

The New York Times: In Africa, a Mix of Shots Drives an Uncertain Covid Vaccination Push  


CDC: Effectiveness of COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccination in Preventing COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department and Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Nonimmunocompromised Children and Adolescents Aged 5–17 Years

A recent study conducted by the CDC and the VISION Network examined 39,217 emergency department (ED), urgent care (UC) encounters and 1,699 hospitalisations among persons aged 5 to 17 years with COVID-19–like illness during April 9, 2021–January 29, 2022. The study employed a case-control test-negative design to estimate the VE of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in preventing COVID-19 associated hospitalisations in this cohort. 

Click on the link below to access the study findings:

Effectiveness of COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccination in Preventing COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department and Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Nonimmunocompromised Children and Adolescents Aged 5–17 Years 


CDC: Effectiveness of 2-Dose BNT162b2 (Pfizer BioNTech) mRNA Vaccine in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children Aged 5–11 Years and Adolescents Aged 12–15 Years — PROTECT Cohort

The CDC has released the findings of a recent PROTECT study, assessing the efficacy of two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in preventing infection from the Omicron variant amongst children 5 to 11 and adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The study included clinical data from a cohort of 1,364 participants gathered from July 2021 to February 2022.

The report provides evidence that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective in preventing both asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in this cohort.

Click on the link below to read the full report:

Effectiveness of 2-Dose BNT162b2 (Pfizer BioNTech) mRNA Vaccine in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children Aged 5–11 Years and Adolescents Aged 12–15 Years — PROTECT Cohort  

 


New reference page: Japanese encephalitis 

An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a rare but potentially lethal mosquito-transmitted disease that can cause inflammation of the brain has been detected in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. While most infections are asymptomatic, it is currently the leading cause of vaccine-preventable encephalitis in Asia.

Our new reference page: Japanese encephalitis addresses key factors including:
- What is JEV?
- What to look for?
- How it is transmitted?
- Epidemiological information
- Prevention
- Vaccine information

Follow the link to view the full reference page:
Japanese encephalitis