Each year influenza (flu) vaccine is developed to protect you against the most common strains of flu. Influenza disease can be very serious leading to complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), neurological conditions and other bacterial infections.
The flu vaccine is recommended for any person six months of age and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the flu.
Flu vaccines are free through the 2020 Annual Influenza Program for eligible groups such as:
people aged six months and older with medical risk factors.
all children aged six months to less than five years of age
all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over
everyone aged 65 years and over
Adults and children who are homeless and are not eligible for free flu vaccines under the National Immunisation Program’s Annual Influenza Program, are eligible for free flu vaccine under a State Funded Influenza Program.
Although not funded, the flu vaccine is also strongly recommended for:
people who may potentially pass on the flu to those at high risk of complications from flu infection
people providing essential services (for example, police and ambulance officers)
workers in other industries (corporations wishing to reduce absenteeism in the workforce)
Availability of flu vaccines
Funded flu vaccine is expected to be available from April but this can vary.
Several brands of flu vaccine from different manufacturers are used and they become available at different times. Some flu vaccines are used only in the funded program, some are used only for private programs and others may be used for both funded and private programs.
When adequate stocks are available, funded flu vaccine is distributed to immunisation providers using the established South Australian vaccine distribution system. Privately purchased flu vaccine supplies are arranged by the providers that use them and may be available at a different time to funded flu vaccines.
Check with your immunisation provider to find out approximately when they will have the vaccine available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.
Vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program
All funded vaccines available for use in Australia for the 2020 flu season are quadrivalent (four strains- two influenza A and two influenza B) and contain the following strains:
an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
an A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus
a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus and
a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.
These influenza vaccines are available for free through the National Immunisation Program for 2020 depending on eligibility:
Vaxigrip Tetra® – for all those from 6 months to 64 years of age
Fluarix® Tetra - for all those from 6 months to 64 years of age
FluQuadriTM - for those from 6 months to 64 years of age
Afluria® Quad - for those 5 years to 64 years of age.
Fluad® Quad® for those 65 years of age and over
All funded flu vaccines available in Australia in 2020 are latex free.
All children six months to less than nine years of age receiving flu vaccine for the first time should receive two doses at least one month apart to improve their immune response. Otherwise, if a child in this age group has received at least one flu vaccine in a previous flu season they only require one dose each subsequent year.
Flu vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, and into the top of the arm from 12 months of age.
People with egg allergy
People with egg allergy, including a history of anaphylaxis, can be safety vaccinated with influenza vaccines. You do not have to be vaccinated in a hospital setting. If you have an egg allergy please discuss this with your immunisation provider.
Possible side effects of the flu vaccine
Like any medications, the flu vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.
Common side effects may include:
pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
drowsiness, tiredness or irritability
low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.
Some side effects may appear as ‘flu-like’ symptoms, but all flu vaccines currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause the flu.
Rare side effects may include a severe allergic reaction.
Many of the common side effects can often be reduced by:
drinking extra fluids
taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
not overdressing if you are already hot.
Where to get immunised
To receive the annual flu vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre, Aboriginal health centre or an approved pharmacy. For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.
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