New advice: Bivalent vaccines now preferred for Primary course
ATAGI has reviewed the available evidence and advises that for people aged 12 years or older, a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is now preferred over original (ancestral) vaccines for primary vaccination.
ATAGI further advises that:
People aged 12-17 years are recommended to receive a BA.4/5-containing bivalent vaccine for both the primary course and booster doses.
People aged ≥18 years are recommended to receive either a BA.1-containing bivalent vaccine or a BA.4/5-containing bivalent vaccine for both the primary course and booster doses.
People aged ≥12 who have commenced their primary course with an original (ancestral) vaccine are recommended to complete the course with a bivalent vaccine.
When using a bivalent vaccine for primary vaccination, the number of doses and the interval between the doses are the same as for the original (ancestral) vaccine formulations.
Original (ancestral) vaccines continue to be available for individuals aged ≥12 years who either prefer to not to receive a bivalent primary course; or who cannot or choose not to have an mRNA vaccine.
For children aged six months – 11 years, there is currently no bivalent vaccine available, and existing original vaccines should continue to be used for this age group.
The ATAGI COVID-19 2023 Booster Advice provides guidance on which individuals are recommended, or can consider, a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for additional protection against severe COVID-19.
Novavax vaccines with Lot No. 4302MF031 has been recalled due to a potential issue with the batch. Practices should check the lot number (listed on the outside of the box and on the vial) and dispose of any affected Novavax vaccine vials. There are no patient safety concerns associated with the recalled vaccine, however it is still recommended not to use the affected batch. Any disposed vaccines should be included in the weekly Stock Management Report as wastage, using ‘wastage upon receipt’ as the reason.
COVID-19 vaccine – discontinued products
Moderna Bivalent BA.1 vaccine – last orders now closed
Supply of the Moderna Bivalent BA.1 vaccine is no longer available for order via CVAS, with final deliveries to be made by Friday 2 June 2023. These vaccines may be administered until the thaw expiry date or the manufacture expiry date (whichever is earlier). These dates are displayed on the packaging.
Pfizer 12 years+ vaccine (purple) – last order window
Last order window for Pfizer 12 years+ vaccine opens 3 June 2023, and closes 11:59pm 9 June 2023. All vaccines will expire 30 June 2023. Final delivery date will be 23 June 2023 – note that this stock will only have seven days shelf life.
Request access to COVID-19 vaccine products
Practices can submit a request to access to more vaccine products within CVAS. Check current access via the ‘View Existing Vaccine Access’ button which lists a summary of all vaccine products the site is currently approved to order.
To submit a request to:
log into the CVAS portal,
navigate to the ‘Manage Account’ tab and
click the ‘Update Vaccine Access’ button and follow the prompts.
Influenza vaccination coverage
NCIRS regularly monitors influenza vaccination coverage data and update the data weekly during the 2023 influenza season.
Influenza vaccine coverage between 1 March 2023 and 20 May 2023:
Children six months to <five years of age*
Adults aged 65 years and over*
*Coverage is based on the proportion of AIR-registered, Medicare-eligible people who were recorded as having received at least one dose of influenza vaccine between 1 March 2023 and 20 May 2023 (inclusive). AIR data as at 21 May 2023.
Why is influenza vaccination important during pregnancy?
Influenza can be a serious disease, especially for pregnant women and the babies they are carrying. The immune system is less responsive during pregnancy; this puts pregnant women at greater risk of influenza and makes them more vulnerable to severe illness.
Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be immunised against influenza and are also at an increased risk of hospitalisation from the disease. Vaccinating pregnant women means that antibodies made by the mother can be passed onto the baby before they are born. This provides the newborn with good protection, especially in the first few months when they are most vulnerable to severe illness from influenza infection.
Influenza vaccination is safe and effective and is recommended at any time during pregnancy. The vaccine is free for all pregnant women under the National Immunisation Program. The Australian Immunisation Handbook provides detailed recommendations for vaccinations for women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding.
The ATAGI 2023 Annual Statement on Immunisation is the third publication in this series. It covers key successes, trends and challenges in the use of vaccines and control of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2023. It also signals ATAGI’s priorities for 2023.
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