Welcome to FluTracking, the surveillance system that harnesses the power of the internet and community spirit for monitoring influenza. By taking part, you’ll not only be contributing to scientific research, but you will also be helping to track influenza in your local community and nation-wide. Over the 15 years the survey has been running in Australia, and now 3 years in New Zealand, we have grown to over 140,000 participants per week who have collectively completed over 12.8 million surveys!
A simple online survey that takes less than 15 seconds each week during flu season can tell us so much.
The main aims of FluTracking are to develop a system that can provide:
- Community level influenza-like illness surveillance
- Consistent surveillance of influenza activity across all jurisdictions and over time; and
- Year-to-year comparison of the timing, attack rates, and seriousness of influenza in the community.
After registering as a volunteer FluTracker, you’ll receive a weekly email from us. The email contains a link to an online survey form.
On the first visit you’ll be asked to provide the following information:
- Month and year of birth
- Receipt of influenza vaccine in the preceding year
- Postcode of residence
- Indigenous status (AU) or ethnicity (NZ)
- Face to face contact with patients (for participants 15 years or older)
- Highest level of education (for participants 15 years or older)
On subsequent weekly visits to the form, you’ll be asked about the presence of typical flu-like symptoms like:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Any change in sense of taste or smell
If you answer ‘yes’ to a symptom, you’ll get these follow-up questions about:
- Number of days absent from normal duties
- Visits to health care providers
- Results of laboratory tests for Influenza or COVID-19
- Receipt of influenza vaccine in the current year
The FluTracking Surveillance System in New Zealand
FluTracking launched in New Zealand in May 2018. Over 6,000 people, representing 507 postcodes across North Island and South Island, registered with FluTracking in its first year. There were approximately 4,000 participants per week (or a participation rate of 1 in every 1,200 New Zealanders).
In all over 100,000 people have registered with FluTracking over the last three years with almost 95,000 joining in 2020. Overall, 996 postcodes were represented. During 2020 there was an average of 52,000 responses per week from February to December.
The FluTracking Program in Australia
FluTracking was launched in the Australian winter of 2006, with 400 “FluTrackers” completing a 10 – 15 second online survey about flu-like symptoms each week.
In the winter of 2007, this increased to approximately 800 participants. The following year, there were over 1,600. The higher rate was due to a new feature introduced in 2008 which allowed participants to answer the survey on behalf of their household members.
Since then, the number of FluTrackers has continued to rise. More than 10,000 people have been answering the weekly survey every year since 2010 and more than 100,000 participants answered their surveys in 2020.
Thank You, FluTrackers!
In total for Australia and New Zealand, almost 5.6 million surveys were completed by FluTrackers throughout 2020. There were 204,541 Australian and New Zealand FluTrackers who completed at least one survey in 2020 compared to 59,566 Australian FluTrackers in 2019, thanks to you inviting your friends, family, and colleagues to join FluTracking. There was a 284% increase on the number of surveys completed last year, so thank you for your help!
We look forward to FluTracking with you in 2021!