Predominant flu strain in Queensland not covered by free vaccine

2 September 2015

Staff writer

Queensland flu - predominant strain not covered by free vaccine

Queensland is in the midst of its worst flu season on record, hit hard by a strain not included in the free vaccination program.

Around 15,000 cases of influenza have been reported in the state so far this year, roughly 5000 more than in the same period of 2014.

More than 10,000 cases involved the so-called Brisbane strain of influenza B, which is not covered by the government-funded flu vaccine offered for free to the elderly, the chronically ill and indigenous children.

The government-funded trivalent flu vaccine provides protection against 3 strains of influenza - Influenza A California, Influenza A Switzerland and Influenza B Phuke - but not the Influenza B Brisbane strain.

There is a quadrivalent (protects against 4 strains) vaccine available to Australians, which contains the influenza B Brisbane strain, but it's not free.

Influenza Specialist Group chairman Alan Hampson told ABC Radio that unless a quadrivalent vaccine is made available for general use in the population, the same problem will occur every year.

Medical Observer