Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS)

The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance system (WAVSS) is the central reporting service in WA for any significant adverse events following immunisation (AEFI).

The initiative was developed by the Western Australian Department of Health to monitor vaccine safety.

WAVSS facilitates the reporting of suspected AEFIs and access to appropriate clinical assessment.

Although significant AEFIs are rare, WAVSS was established to help healthcare providers and the public to report potential AEFIs and, where required, to ensure appropriate clinical follow-up of individuals who have experienced a significant AEFI.

The WAVSS reporting system is now part of the national reporting hub called Adverse Events Following Immunisation – Clinical Assessment Network (AEFI-CAN).

The WAVSS reporting website is now redirected to the WAVSS page on AEFI-CAN. There are no changes services or management of WAVSS and all WA reports will be followed up as usual by WA Department of Health staff.

What will WAVSS provide?

WAVSS facilitates:

  • clinical support to patients and immunisation providers
  • information to immunisation providers about AEFI in their patients
  • specialised immunisation clinics for individuals with a history of a significant AEFI
  • maximum immunisation coverage which will result in improved control of vaccine-preventable diseases
  • improved knowledge of AEFI through systematic surveillance
  • improved reporting levels of AEFI’s to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site). All AEFIs will be reported to the TGA by WAVSS staff.

What is an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI)?

The international definition of an AEFI is ‘an unwanted or unexpected event following the administration of a vaccine(s)’.

An AEFI may be caused by a vaccine(s) or may occur by coincidence, that is, it would have occurred regardless of vaccination.

AEFIs also include conditions that may occur following the incorrect handling and/or administration of a vaccine(s).

Who can report an AEFI in WA?

  • Healthcare professionals involved in the care of a vaccinated person who experiences an AEFI. Medical practitioners in WA have a statutory requirement to notify AEFIs to the WA Department of Health as specified in Regulation 4 of the Health (Notification of Adverse Event After Immunisation) Regulations 1995.
  • Following any necessary medical assessment or treatment, members of the public can use the system to report adverse reactions to immunisation that they, a child or their family member may have experienced.

It is far better for an AEFI to be reported by more than one person than not at all.

How do I report an AEFI in Western Australia?

Health care providers can report possible AEFI using the online portal at AEFI-CAN WAVSS (external site)

Please use the AEFI-CAN reporting guide (PDF 1.3MB) to assist with reporting the AEFI online.

WAVSS staff can be contacted at wavss@health.wa.gov.au and 08 6456 0208

Members of the public may choose to report AEFI online, or by phone or email.

Should all AEFIs be reported?

Healthcare providers should report:
  • any significant event following immunisation should be reported
  • any vaccine reaction that requires assessment by a doctor or nurse
  • any vaccine reaction that has affected a family’s confidence in future immunisation.

You do not need to report common minor reactions.

How will the clinical feedback system work?

It’s important that healthcare providers provide timely feedback to their patients.

Doctors and nurses who report significant an AEFI will receive advice by phone, email or letter to help clinically manage the future care and immunisation needs of these patients.

Can a patient be referred to a specialist immunisation clinic after experiencing an AEFI?

Although there are some adverse events which prevent some patients having further vaccinations, for example Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a rare autoimmune condition resulting in paralysis. For many others re-vaccination is possible.

Specialised clinical services are available for people who have had significant AEFI where further vaccinations can be discussed or administered under medical supervision.

If required, the patient will be contacted to arrange an appointment for the specialist immunisation clinic.

How will AEFIs be reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)?

Medical practitioners in WA have a statutory requirement to notify adverse events after immunisation to the WA Department of Health as specified in Regulation 4 of the Health (Notification of Adverse Event After Immunisation) Regulations 1995.

All AEFIs will be reported to the TGA by WAVSS staff.

Why is it important to collect information about AEFI?

WAVSS will work in the early detection and the appropriate and quick responses to AEFIs, with the overall aim of reducing the negative impact that such events can have on the health of individuals and on the wider immunisation program.

WAVSS will carefully monitor adverse events after immunisation in WA, provide individual support to immunisation providers and clinical assistance for families affected by an AEFI.

The clinical follow-up service provided by WAVSS will increase the confidence of patients and their immunisation providers to continue the immunisation schedule, even if they have experienced an AEFI.

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