Welcome to FluTracking, the surveillance system that harnesses the power of the internet and community spirit for monitoring influenza and COVID-19. By taking part, you’ll not only be contributing to scientific research, but you will also be helping to track influenza and COVID-19 in your local community and nation-wide. Over the 17 years the survey has been running in Australia, and now 5 years in New Zealand, we have grown up to 110,000 participants per week who have collectively completed over 23.2 million surveys!
A simple online survey that takes less than 30 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 and COVID-like illness surveillance
- Consistent surveillance of influenza and COVID-19 activity across all jurisdictions and over time; and
- Year-to-year comparison of the timing, attack rates, and seriousness of COVID-19 and 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
- Number of COVID-19 vaccination doses received, and the month and year in which the latest dose was received
- 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
Further questions ask for:
- Results of test for Influenza or COVID-19
- Receipt of COVID-19 vaccine and the brand of the vaccine
- Receipt of influenza vaccine in the current year
The FluTracking Program 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 124,000 people have registered with FluTracking over the last four years with over 1,000 postcodes represented and over 11,000 joining in 2022. During 2022 there was an average of 37,000 responses per week and just under 65,000 participants completing at least one survey.
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 risen. More than 4,000 people have been answering the weekly survey every year since 2011, with over 3,000 postcodes represented in 2022 and over 13,500 participants joining in 2022. During 2022, there was an average of over 61,000 responses per week, and over 90,000 participants completing at least one survey.
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Thank You, FluTrackers!
In total for Australia and New Zealand, over 5 million surveys were completed by FluTrackers throughout 2022. There were 154,982 Australian and New Zealand FluTrackers who completed at least one survey in 2022, thanks to you inviting your friends, family, and colleagues to join FluTracking.
We look forward to FluTracking with you in 2023!