Published: 6 March 2014

Spontaneous Reports: Seasonal Influenza Vaccination 2013

Prescriber Update 35(1): 10
March 2014

In 2013, the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) received 290 reports of adverse events following seasonal influenza vaccination (Table 1). Some reports contained more than one suspected event.

Table 1: Numbers of reports received by CARM and number of influenza vaccine doses distributed, 2009-2013

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Reports of adverse events following influenza vaccination 138 409 207 193 290
Influenza vaccine doses distributed* 960,900 1,046,000 993,500 1,000,600 1,253,600
Estimated reporting rate per 100,000 doses 14.4 39.1 20.8 19.3 23.1

* The number of doses distributed is not equal to number administered (eg, some doses may have been destroyed at the end of the influenza season and not used).

The most commonly reported events were injection site inflammation (65 reports), headache (39), arm pain (35), and fever (25).

Three percent (10 reports) of the influenza vaccine-related reports in 2013 were considered serious. A serious adverse reaction is determined by CARM according to internationally agreed criteria (ie, resulting in hospitalisation, is life-threatening, fatal, results in a disability or requires intervention to prevent permanent disability, or results in a congenital abnormality).

One death was reported with a temporal association to influenza vaccination. This patient, with a history of myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmia, congestive heart failure and diabetes, died of a further myocardial infarction.

In 2013, most reports were submitted by nurses (72%), followed by GPs (21%), pharmacists (1.7%), and hospital doctors (1.0%).

In 2014, the influenza vaccine includes two new strains. The funded vaccines are Fluarix (GSK) and Influvac (Abbott). Both may be used in children from 6 months of age.