Australia has been very proactive in the development of the seasonal influenza vaccine. In 2015, a highly infectious influenza outbreak occurred in Brisbane, leading to an earlier implementation of the 2016 flu vaccine for free to at-risk populations to build immunity before the beginning of the flu season, which begins August 2016 (Australia has an earlier flu season than the United States, most likely due to seasonal difference). According to Sussan Ley, the Minister of Health in Australia, the Brisbane outbreak was particularly unusual because a record number of patients (20%) were hospitalized.
In order to prepare for the 2017 flu seasons, Ley encourages at-risk populations including the Aborigines, pregnant women with previous health complications including asthma or heart disease, people over the age of 65, and Toret Straight Islanders to be vaccinated sooner. Ley has stated that the previous 2016 trivalent flu vaccine was ineffective in protecting against the major flu strains; therefore, both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines are being considered, and a novel strain called H1N1(pdm)09 will be included as well for the 2017 flu vaccine.
The trivalent vaccine will include strains of A(H1N1), A(H3N2), and B (Brisbane virus). The quadrivalent vaccine will include another strain of B. These strains were recommended by the World Health Organization, and the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) was quick in accepting these recommendations for the 2017 influenza flu vaccine protocols.
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~Michelle Bach (Humans and Viruses 2016-2017)