Updated
September 30th, 2019

Southern Hemisphere’s 2020 Influenza Vaccines Changed

WHO announced 2020 flu season vaccine changes

southern hemisphere map

A World Health Organization (WHO) advisory group recommended exchanging the H3N2 component and one that covers the influenza B Victoria lineage in the Southern Hemisphere's 2020 flu vaccines.

This WHO announcement on September 27, 2019, recommends the following components for next year’s Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccines:

  • For H1N1, an A/Brisbane/02/2018-like virus,
  • For H3N2, an A/South Australia/34/2019-like virus,
  • For B Victoria, a B/Washington/02/2019-like virus,
  • For Yamagata, a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.

Additionally, the WHO reported the new H3N2 component is A/South Australia/34/2019, which replaces A/Kansas/14/2017, which was the delayed component for the Northern Hemisphere's 2019-2020 influenza season. 

The newly recommended H3N2 strain is also a change from the current Southern Hemisphere’s vaccine, which was A/Switzerland/8060/2017.

Also, the new influenza B Victoria lineage strain is B/Washington/02/2019, replaces the B/Colorado/06/2017.

The group's pick for the 2009 H1N1 strain is the same as this season's Northern Hemisphere vaccine but is different than the one included in the current Southern Hemisphere vaccine, which is A/Michigan/45/2015.

For egg-based trivalent versions that have only one B strain, the WHO experts recommended including the Victoria lineage vaccine virus.

These component changes could mean that what’s in the current Northern Hemisphere vaccine may not be the best match to protect people from the approaching Southern Hemisphere version circulating the globe.

The complete WHO report is available here. 

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The WHO convenes technical consultations in February and September each year to recommend viruses for inclusion in influenza vaccines for the Northern and Southern hemisphere influenza seasons, respectively. 

This means a recommendation will be made by the WHO in February 2020 relating to vaccines that will be used for the Northern Hemisphere 2020-2021 influenza season.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, says the CDC.

It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications.   

There are two main types of influenza virus: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year, says the CDC.

Most pharmacies offer various flu shots and antiviral medications that treat influenza.

Influenza Vaccine news is published by Precision Vaccinations