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Flu vaccine

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.

Vaccines recommendations

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.

There are two types vaccines available for use in Australia for the 2019 influenza season.

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

Trivalent influenza vaccine

Fluad®

Fluad® (Seqirus) trivalent influenza vaccine available through the 2019 National Immunisation Program (NIP) for those aged 65 years and over. This is the recommended and free vaccine for this age group.

Fluad® influenza vaccine in Australia is latex free in 2019.

This adjuvanted vaccine has been formulated to produce a higher immune response for older people, offering better protection.

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines — FluQuadri®  Junior,  Fluarix® Tetra, FluQuadri and AfluriaQuad®

These influenza vaccines are available through the National Immunisation for those less than 65 years of age:

  • FluQuadri Junior – for those 6 months to less than 3 years of age
  • Fluarix Tetra - for all those from 6 months of age
  • FluQuadri - for those from 3 years of age  
  • Afluria Quad - for those 5 years of age and over.

These vaccines are available for free through the 2019 Annual Influenza Program (PDF 55KB) for eligible groups such as pregnant women and those with medical risk factors.

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.

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

  • people who may potentially pass on the flu to people 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).

How the vaccine is given

Influenza 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.

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the 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 vaccines currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause a flu infection.

Rare side effects may include a severe allergic reaction.

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. Those not eligible for free vaccines can also access flu vaccine through approved pharmacies.

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

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