Breaking news: AusVaxSafety expands

2 November 2016

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Honourable Sussan Ley, announced a major expansion of the AusVaxSafety system in Canberra today, alongside the launch of the new National Shingles Vaccination Program. AusVaxSafety, a collaborative initiative led by NCIRS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, actively monitors the safety of vaccines using SMS-feedback from recently vaccinated children and adults. From November 2016, AusVaxSafety will expand to support the National Shingles Vaccination Program as well as monitor influenza vaccine safety in all age groups. While vaccines are an incredibly safe way to protect against disease, this system helps provide continuous safety monitoring to ensure public confidence in taking up vaccination. From 2017, AusVaxSafety will routinely report on all vaccines given to people of any age.

AusVaxSafety is established in 110 sentinel immunisation providers across all Australian states and territories and will expand to over 200 sites in 2017. General practices, hospital- and community-based clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services participate. AusVaxSafety partners with and is made possible by several computer-based automated surveillance tools, particularly SmartVax and Vaxtracker, which send SMSs or web-based surveys to parents of recently vaccinated children and to recently vaccinated adults, to check how they felt after vaccination. A third tool called STARSS, an NHMRC-funded study comparing methods of surveillance, also reports to AusVaxSafety. Data is analysed in collaboration with colleagues at the Telethon Kids Institute, who use statistical methods to automatically detect safety signals.

Two other methods of tracking vaccine safety will also be supported under the AusVaxSafety umbrella. One is the national Adverse Events Following Immunisation Clinical Assessment Network (AEFI-CAN), which consists of specialised services that support the roll-out of vaccines to people with complex medical needs. The other is a new partnership with NPS MedicineWise to monitor vaccine safety using data from MedicineInsight, a network of over 500 general practices that supports quality use of medicines in Australia and which has not previously been used to examine vaccines.

Real-time reporting in 2016

During 2016, AusVaxSafety surveillance has been conducted for influenza vaccine in children aged 6 months to <5 years and pertussis-containing booster vaccines in children aged 12 months to <7 years. Our monitoring has shown that both of these vaccines continue to be very safe. On average, 9 out of 10 children are reported by their parents as having experienced no side effects after vaccination; in those who have reported potential reactions, they are mostly mild and short-lived.

Data compiled by AusVaxSafety are summarised in reports for the Australian Government Department of Health Immunisation Branch and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and shared with participating state and territory health departments. Reports are written and distributed weekly for influenza vaccine-associated reactions (during influenza season only) and monthly for reactions associated with pertussis-containing vaccines.

Current vaccine safety surveillance

AusVaxSafety influenza vaccine surveillance numbers as of 4 September 2016

  • 3745 children participated

  • 358 reported any reaction (typically mild fever, tiredness)

  • 40 (1.1%) reported medical attendance sought (typically a visit to the GP)


AusVaxSafety pertussis-containing vaccine surveillance numbers as of 17 October 2016

  • 6914 children participated

  • 1380 reported any reaction (typically reaction at injection site, mild fever, tiredness)

  • 121 (1.8%) reported medical attendance sought (typically a visit to the GP)


For 2015 influenza vaccine results, please refer to our Eurosurveillance article: Real-time safety surveillance of seasonal influenza vaccines in children, Australia, 2015.

For more information

For further information on AusVaxSafety:
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 Last updated 2 November 2016