Flu Vaccine Changes for the 2019 Southern Hemisphere

2019 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine recommendations published by the WHO

sail boat in the southern seas

A group of the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine advisors met in Atlanta on September 27, 2018, and have recommended changes to the Southern Hemisphere's 2019 vaccine and recommended swapping out the H3N2 component in egg-based vaccines. 

This new WHO information is important for Americans planning to travel to the Southern Hemisphere during 2019.

During 2018 in the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity was reported for all three strains with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and influenza B viruses co-circulating.

The WHO’s 2019 recommendation on vaccine composition is based on the year-round work of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System. This WHO advisory group issues recommendations on the composition of the influenza vaccines for the following influenza season.

The periodic replacement of viruses contained in influenza vaccines is necessary in order for the vaccines to be effective due to the constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses. 

This group’s recommendations are used by the national vaccine regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies to produce new influenza vaccines. 

According to the new WHO report, the recommended egg-based quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2019 southern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage); and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage).

It is recommended that egg-based trivalent vaccines for use in the 2019 southern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage).

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It is recommended that the A(H3N2) component of non-egg based vaccines for use in the 2019 southern hemisphere influenza season be an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016-like virus together with the other vaccine components as indicated above. 

Since the WHO suggests international travelers protect themselves from these influenza viruses prior to departure, travel vaccination services can be found at certified pharmacies.

These pharmacies offer several FDA approved flu vaccines. 

International travelers can easily make pre-departure vaccination appointments at Vax-Before-Travel. 

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector prices for general information.

Flu vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.