2017 was one of the worst flu seasons in Australia in almost a decade, with more than 250 000 Australians impacted and 1 000 fatalities.
Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for anyone over six months of age. As the virus evolves into new strains, influenza vaccines are updated yearly. It is important to get an influenza vaccine each year to continue to be protected.
Getting vaccinated from April gives you the best protection ready for the peak flu period, from around June to September.
The flu vaccine does not contain any live virus, so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Flu shots are available now at general practices and most pharmacies.
Influenza vaccines are funded by the state and national influenza programs and available free of charge for:
- all children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 15 years of age
- individuals 65 years and older
- individuals older than 5 years of age with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
If you’re not eligible to receive a free influenza vaccine, they are still available to be purchased from a range of vaccine providers including general practices, community health clinics, Aboriginal Medical Services and pharmacies.
Resources regarding the influenza vaccine:
What medical conditions are eligible for a free influenza vaccine?
Influenza can significantly impact people who have existing health conditions. It is vital for people with chronic illness and disease to protect themselves with the influenza vaccine. This includes anyone who is six months of age and over who has:
- heart disease
- severe asthma (requiring frequent medical consultations or use of multiple medications)
- chronic lung conditions
- diseases of the nervous system which affect your breathing
- impaired immunity
- kidney disease
- blood disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long-term aspirin therapy
Receiving an influenza vaccination when pregnant
Influenza is a very serious disease for pregnant women, unborn children and newborn babies. Although many cases are mild, influenza can be life-threatening.
The flu vaccine can be safely given to women at any stage during pregnancy. When a mother gets an influenza vaccine during pregnancy, their baby is protected from the moment they are born. Since babies under six months are too young to receive the flu vaccine, their only opportunity for protection is for you to get a vaccine whilst pregnant.
If you are unsure about influenza vaccination, ask your health care provider for advice.
Learn more about the risks associated with influenza during pregnancy and the benefits of receiving an influenza vaccine by watching the videos below.