Annual influenza vaccination is the most important measure in preventing influenza and its complications.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for all persons aged six months and over and a recommendation from a health care provider is the single most important driver for people receiving the vaccine.
Administering the vaccine from April provides protection in the peak influenza period from June to September. However, influenza vaccine can be administered throughout the year while the vaccine is within its expiry date.
In 2020, the influenza season in the ACT will coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic. Immunisation providers are encouraged to implement enhanced infection control measures to ensure they can provide influenza vaccination services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fact sheet - Planning and managing influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic
Influenza virus strains included in the 2020 southern hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccines
Influenza strains included in the 2020 southern hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccines are:
- A (H1N1): an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
- A (H3N2): an A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
- B: a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus;
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.
Eligibility for influenza vaccines funded by the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
In 2020, new age specific vaccines will be available under the NIP for eligible people and age restrictions for some vaccines have changed.
Annual influenza vaccination is NIP-funded for the following groups due to their increased risk of complications from influenza:
- all children 6 months to <5 years
- All Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons aged ≥6 months
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
- All adults aged ≥65 years
- All people aged ≥6 months who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications; for example, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes
Pregnant women and their babies are at increased risk of the severe consequences of influenza infection, with women in the later stages of pregnancy being at highest risk.
Influenza vaccination during pregnancy should be routine: safety is well established and both maternal and infant benefit is proven. For more information see the RANZCOG statement on Influenza vaccination during pregnancy.
Influenza vaccination is recommended in every pregnancy. Immunising early in the season, regardless of gestational age is optimal, however unvaccinated women should be offered influenza vaccine at any time. Women who received an influenza vaccine in 2019 should be offered the 2020 vaccine if it becomes available before the end of pregnancy. Influenza vaccine can safely be given at the same time as pertussis vaccine.
Women who received an influenza vaccine before becoming pregnant should be revaccinated during pregnancy to protect the unborn infant.
Further information on influenza vaccination for pregnant women can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
Children 6 months to under 5 years of age
Influenza vaccine is free and routinely recommended for all children 6 month to under 5 years of age though the NIP.
Children under 5 years of age have a higher risk of hospitalisation and increased morbidity due to influenza related illness. Vaccinating has been shown to reduce the risk of influenza-associated hospitalisation and death in this group.
Children aged 6 months to less than 9 years require two doses in the first year they receive the influenza vaccine. Doses should be at least 4 weeks apart. Children who have received one or more doses of influenza vaccine in previous years will only need one dose in current and future seasons.
The influenza vaccine can be administered with any other vaccine. There is a possibility of a small increased risk of fever following concomitant administration of the influenza vaccine and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (13vPCV). Parents/carers of infants or children who are recommended to receive both vaccines should be advised of this possible risk and given the option of an interval of at least 3 days between vaccines.
Further information on influenza vaccination for children aged 6 months to under 5 years can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
People aged 65 years and over
Influenza vaccine is free and routinely recommended for all adults 65 years and older though the NIP. Influenza-associated mortality rates are highest among adults aged ≥65 years. Vaccinating elderly people reduces hospitalisations from influenza and pneumonia, and all-cause mortality.
Fluad®Quad is an adjuvanted, quadrivalent vaccine newly registered for use in adults ≥65 years of age in 2020. Fluad®Quad is not registered for use in people younger than 65 years – its effectiveness and safety has not been assessed in younger populations.
Further information on influenza vaccination for people aged 65 years and older can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook
Pneumovax 23 (65 years and over) and Zostavax (70-79 years of age) vaccines should also be offered to eligible people at the time of their influenza vaccination.
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
Influenza vaccine is free and routinely recommended for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over. The disease burden from influenza is significantly higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than among non-Indigenous Australians in all age groups. Children aged 6 months to less than 9 years require two doses in the first year they receive the vaccine and doses should be at least 4 weeks apart. Children who have received the influenza vaccine in previous years will only need one dose in current and future seasons.
Further information on influenza vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook
People aged six months and over with certain medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza
Influenza vaccine is free and routinely recommended though the NIP for all people aged six months and over with certain medical conditions (table below) predisposing them to severe influenza.
||Vaccination strongly recommended for individuals with the following conditions
||Cyanotic congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease
|Chronic respiratory conditions
||Severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic emphysema
|Chronic neurological conditions
||Hereditary and degenerative CNS diseases, seizure disorders, spinal cord injuries, neuromuscular disorders
||Immunocompromised due to disease or treatment, asplenia or splenic dysfunction, HIV infection
|Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
||Type 1 or 2 diabetes, chronic metabolic disorders
||Chronic renal failure
|Long-term aspirin therapy in children aged 6 months to 10 years
||These children are at increased risk of Reye syndrome following influenza infection
|Please refer to The Australian Immunisation Handbook for advice on persons who are strongly recommended to receive annual influenza vaccination but not eligible for NIP- funded influenza vaccines.
Information on administration of influenza vaccine can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.