What is the flu vaccine?
Influenza vaccine (also called flu vaccine) is used to prevent infection caused by the influenza (“flu”) virus. The flu can cause serious illness, especially in young children, the elderly, and people with chronic health problems, but anyone can become seriously ill from the flu virus. Even if you are not feeling sick, you could still be infected with the flu virus and pass it on to others.
Read more about influenza.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and reduce the seriousness of illness if you become infected. It will greatly improve your chances of not getting the flu, but it does not give 100% protection.
The flu vaccine works by making your immune system produce special cells called antibodies that will attack and kill the flu virus when it enters your body. This means that if you get infected with the flu these protective antibodies are already in your bloodstream to quickly fight off the germs.
Even if you get the flu after being vaccinated, you will usually get a mild form of it – and will recover faster and be less likely to have serious complications.
Make sure you get vaccinated every year
It’s important to get the flu vaccine every year because protection from the previous vaccination becomes less effective over time and each year the flu vaccine is developed to match the different strains of flu virus you are likely to encounter. In Australia, you can get your flu vaccine from March/April each year – you should get the vaccine before winter when the flu is most widespread.
When is the flu vaccine given?
It is possible to come in contact with flu viruses all year round, but the chance of the flu virus circulating in the community is highest during winter. For most people, the best time to be vaccinated against influenza is just before the start of the winter season – in Australia, this would be between April and June. It takes 2 weeks after vaccination for the vaccine to be fully effective. You may still get the flu in this time if you come into contact with the virus, so get it done early in time for winter.
If you become pregnant after winter and have not received the current flu vaccine, it is recommended that you can have it up to and including 31 December.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Anyone over the age of 6 months can have the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is free for people who are considered to be at greater risk of complications from the flu:
- In Victoria, the following people are eligible to receive a free seasonal influenza vaccine:
- all children aged six months to less than five years (Victorian state funded program)
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged from six months
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- all people aged from six months with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza; for example, sever asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes
- pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
Check with your doctor if you are uncertain about whether you qualify for a free flu vaccine. Read more about the eligibility criteria.
The vaccination is also recommended (although may not be free), for those who are in close contact with people with weakened immune systems who may be less able to fight off the flu or who are at high risk of complications from the flu. Frontline healthcare workers usually have the vaccine funded by their employer.
The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle such as the muscle on your upper arm. If you have a condition that makes you bleed more easily than normal, it may be given as an injection underneath your skin. Babies and toddlers are given the injection on the side of their thigh.
Adults and children 9 years and older: only one dose of the vaccine is required to achieve protection for the season.
Children aged between 6 months and under 9 years: two doses of the vaccine are required, with the second dose given at least 4 weeks after the first. Children in this age group who have received an influenza vaccine at any time in the past require only one dose.
What about side effects?
Like all medicines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
|Side effects||What should I do?|
|Pain, swelling, or redness around the injection site||This is quite common after having the vaccination.It usually starts a few hours after getting the injection and settles within a few days.
Place a cold, wet cloth, or ice pack where the injection was given.
Leave it on for a short time.
Do not rub the injection site.
Tell your doctor if troublesome.
|Fever||It is quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after receiving the injection and usually settles within a few days.
Dress lightly, with a single layer of clothing.
Do not wrap your child in a blanket.
Keep the room cool, use a fan.Drink plenty of fluids.
The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended following vaccinations, but may be used if your child is miserable or distressed.
Tell your doctor if the fever persists.
|Feeling unwell, tired or weak
Loss of appetite
|These are quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after receiving the injection.
It usually settles within a few days.
Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended following vaccinations, but may be used for relief of severe discomfort.
Tell your doctor if troublesome.
|Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, blisters, peeling skin, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or have problems breathing||Allergic reactions to influenza vaccine are very rare.
If you develop these signs within a few days of the immunisation, tell your doctor immediately or ring 000
Where can I get vaccinated?
Influenza vaccination is particularly important for those considered most at risk. Under the National Immunisation Program free influenza vaccines are provided to the following high risk groups:
- children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that
- increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
- pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
- people aged 65 years and over.
For the general public the Flu Vaccine will cost $19.95
Where can I get vaccinated?
Simply make an appointment below