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Australian Influenza Symposium

WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza (VIDRL)
Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
792 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia

T +61 3 9342 9300
F +61 3 9342 9329

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional custodians of the land where our Centre is located.

2009 Influenza Pandemic in Victoria - 10 year anniversary seminar


28 May 2019

The Centre organised and hosted a half-day seminar at the Doherty Institute to commemorate 10 years since the 2009 influenza pandemic in Victoria. This was a significant event in the history of the Centre and for many of the organisations that it works and collaborates with, so we took the opportunity to reflect on what the 2009 pandemic was like and what lessons could be learned from it.

Presentations were given by several people who worked at the forefront of the pandemic response in 2009, including WHO influenza surveillance laboratories, the Victorian and Australian Government Departments of Health, hospitals, vaccine manufacturers and research groups. A panel discussion considered the question of whether we are in better position to manage an influenza pandemic now compared to 2009. Some of the themes that were raised through the different presentations and discussion included:

  • the importance of collaboration and communication between different organisations - highlighted by the effectiveness with which the Australian influenza community worked together in 2009, and the importance of maintaining those networks between emergencies
  • challenges in the surge capacity of resources and personnel to keep up with clinical, diagnostic surveillance and data management needs during the pandemic
  • recognition that different geographical areas within the country may experience different levels of infection at any given time, and that the national plan might require inter-jurisdiction flexibility
  • establishing and maintaining collaborative relationships, protocols and policies as much as possible in advance of a pandemic or emergency situation will help when such an event occurs
  • elements of disease severity and the public response to pandemics can provide unpredictable challenges
  • flexibility in ethical review is necessary to enable timely research that can inform pandemic control strategies

We would like to thank everyone who attended and participated in the seminar, and all of the speakers who were happy to recall and share their memories and impressions of the 2009 influenza pandemic.