Canberra children aged between six months and five years will be eligible for a free influenza vaccination to help protect them from getting sick this flu season.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT Government will provide the vaccinations for free. They will be available from any of the 10 ACT Maternal and Child Health Immunisation Clinics (generally located at Child and Family Centres or Community Health Centres) or from GPs, from April 2018. Families should be aware that GPs may charge a consultation fee.
“Offering this free vaccine for children between six months and five years will ensure more people, particularly those at greatest risk, are protected from the flu this winter,” said Minister Fitzharris.
“While we would have preferred to see the Federal Government step up to the plate and put this on the National Immunisation Program, the ACT will take action and join other states, including Victoria, NSW and Queensland, in offering the vaccination for free to young children.
“Last year’s flu season was particularly bad, and unfortunately, children under five years were most affected, with two out of every 100 children aged less than five years notified to ACT Health with influenza infection during 2017.
“We are focusing on children under five as they are at an increased risk of flu-related complications including middle ear infection, pneumonia and seizures. Influenza can also be fatal, even in healthy children.
“A yearly flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk of your child getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others. The flu vaccine normally takes up to two weeks to provide full protection,” Minister Fitzharris said.
It is important for parents to know that if their child is receiving the vaccine for the first time, they will require two doses at least four weeks apart. Given the flu season usually occurs during winter and spring, parents are urged to get their child vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available from April prior to the flu season.
Around 25,000 ACT children will be eligible for the free flu vaccination under this new program.
For further information on how best to protect yourself and your family from influenza visit: health.act.gov.au