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09 Mar 2018

WHO recommendations for influenza vaccines 2018-2019 (northern hemisphere)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently announced its recommendations for the influenza vaccine for the 2018-2019 northern hemisphere winter. 

Twice a year, in February and September, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza located at the Doherty Institute, combines its surveillance data with four other such Collaborating Centres around the world for the WHO Consultation on the Composition of Influenza Vaccines. The decision on the recommended composition of the influenza vaccine is made half a year in advance of each respective influenza season due to the time required to manufacture the vaccine.

The most recent consultation was held in Geneva, Switzerland in February and was attended by Prof Kanta Subbarao, Prof Ian Barr and A/Prof Aeron Hurt from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza. Following the Consultation, the following recommendation was made:

It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2018-2019 influenza season (northern hemisphere winter) contain the following:

  • An A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • An A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
  • A B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage)
  • A B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage)

It is recommended that the influenza B virus component of trivalent vaccines for use in the 2018-2019 northern hemisphere influenza season be a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus of the B/Victoria/2/87-lineage.

This recommendation includes a change in the B/Victoria-lineage component of the vaccine. The change was due to an increasing proportion of viruses in North America, Europe and elsewhere that are similar to the newly recommended vaccine virus B/Colorado/6/2017, which is somewhat different to the previous vaccine virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008).
All other components remain the same as the vaccine recommendation for the southern hemisphere in 2018, reflecting that there are no significant changes in recently circulating viruses for the A(H1N1)pdm09 and A(H3N2) subtypes or the B/Yamagata lineage. The recommendation includes two viruses, A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 and B/Phuket/3073/2013, which were originally isolated as candidate vaccine viruses by the Centre in Melbourne.

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