Flu vaccine

Each year a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine is developed to protect you against the most common strains of flu for that year. The flu can be very serious leading to complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of heart), neurologic conditions and other bacterial infections.

The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended fo any person aged six months of age and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the seasonal flu.

Vaccines available and recommendations

There are two vaccines available for use in Australia for the 2018 influenza season.

  • Trivalent (three strains-two influenza A and one influenza B ).
  • Quadrivalent (four strains-two influenza A and two influenza B)

Trivalent influenza vaccines

Fluad® and Fluzone®

There are two trivalent influenza vaccines available through the 2018 National Influenza Program for those aged 65 years of age and over: Fluad® (Seqirus) and Fluzone® (Sanofi PasteurTM).

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have confirmed the presence of natural rubber latex in the needle sheath of the trivalent influenza vaccine Fluad® and have advised that anyone with a severe allergy to latex should not receive Fluad®. In addition to this, as a precautionary measure, SA Health is advising that anyone with a known sensitivity or allergy to latex should not receive Fluad®.

There are no safety concerns regarding the Fluad® vaccine itself. Refer to the SA Health Public Health Alert - Fluad® influenza vaccine and risk to latex sensitive individuals

Fluzone® is latex free and can be used as alternative for those aged 65 years of age and over.

These vaccines are recommended and free through the 2018 Annual Influenza Program for all people aged 65 years of age and older.

The high dose or adjuvanted vaccines are formulated to produce a higher immunise response for older people, offering better protection.

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines

FluQuardi®, Fluarix® Tetra and AfluriaQuad®

These vaccines are available for those less than 65 years of age .

  • FluQuadri® and Fluarix® Tetra can be used for all those aged 3 years of age and older.
  • Afluria Quad® can be used for those aged 18 years of age and older.

These vaccines are recommended and free through the 2018 Annual Influenza Program (PDF 55KB)  for eligible groups such as pregnant women and those with medical risk factors.

FluQuadri Junior® 

This vaccine is available for children aged 6 months to less than 3 years of age and is recommended and free for Aboriginal children and children with medical risk factors in this age group through the 2018 Annual Influenza Program (PDF 55KB).

For all children six months of age to less than nine years of age receiving the flu vaccine for the first time will need to receive two doses one month apart, to ensure an adequate immune response is produced. This will ensure the child is protected and help prevent infection.

State Funded Childhood Influenza Program
The State Funded Childhood Influenza Program is offering influenza vaccine to children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age.
> FluQuadri TM Junior is available for children aged 6 months to less than 3 years of age
> FluQuadri TM is available for children aged 3 years to less than 5 years of age.

Although not free, the seasonal flu vaccine is also strongly recommended for:

  • people who may potentially pass on the flu to those people at high risk of complications from flu infections
  • people providing essential services (police and ambulance officers)
  • workers in other industries (corporations wishing to reduce absenteeism in the work force)

How the vaccine is given

Flu vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh in children under 12 months of age, and into the top of the arm in others over 12 months of age.

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the seasonal flu vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain, redness and swelling where you were immunised
  • drowsiness, tiredness or irritability
  • muscle aches
  • low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.

Some side effects may appear as ‘flu like symptoms’, but all flu vaccine currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause a flu infection.

Rare side effects may include numbness, tingling of the skin and nerve pain, Guillan-Barré (one in a million) or a severe allergic reaction.

In children less than five years of age, these side effects may be more pronounced. 

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can often be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • resting
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment. 

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

Frequently asked questions

Not sure if you want or need to get the annual seasonal flu vaccination? Our flu vaccination frequently asked questions can help you to decide. Questions cover why, who, when and effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

Fact versus fiction

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to flu. See our flu vaccination myths to help you to better understand the flu.

Are you pregnant and not sure about the flu vaccine?

If you're pregnant and not sure if the vaccine is safe see our frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine and pregnancy.

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