Pandemic Phase Status
As of 1 December 2010, Australia is in pandemic phase ALERT.
Australia was in PROTECT phase from 17 June 2009 to 30 November 2010. The focus of this phase was on identifying the people who are most at risk for severe outcomes from pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009 by providing medical care and interventions to reduce this risk, including early treatment with antiviral medication and refocused testing to identify the virus in those with moderate to severe disease; and implementing a pandemic vaccination program.
On 10 August 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the H1N1 influenza virus had moved into the post-pandemic period but that localised outbreaks of various magnitudes were likely to continue. At that time it was considered appropriate that Australia remain in the PROTECT phase, as Australia was still in its influenza season and a late upsurge in pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009 cases was possible.
The Department of Health and Ageing continued to monitor influenza surveillance data and noted that Australia had seen a particularly late peak in the 2010 influenza season, with levels of influenza cases this season similar to those reported in 2007 and 2008 and significantly lower than that observed during 2009. The Chief Medical Officer, together with his expert advisory groups, assessed Australia’s pandemic phase status and recommended the change of phase accordingly.
The key element of the ALERT phase is heightened vigilance for a new influenza virus or a change in a current circulating influenza virus, which may be of concern. This is consistent with the WHO’s recommendation to continue ongoing vigilance in the early post-pandemic period.
An assessment of Australia’s health sector response to pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009 is underway. The review process focuses on what was planned, what happened during the response, and identifies key issues and lessons learned. This information will be critical to inform future pandemic planning.
National Pandemic Vaccination Program
A free vaccine to protect all Australians from pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009 was available until 31 December 2010 when available stocks reached their expiry date. The vaccine was approved for use in young children (from six months of age) as well as adults.
The separate free vaccine is no longer available, however, pandemic (H1N1) influenza 2009 has been incorporated into the seasonal influenza vaccine for 2011. Seasonal vaccine is available free for eligible groups under the National Immunisation Program.
This information is current for 20 May, 2013
This information was issued on 19 January, 2011