Free flu vaccination

elderly couple

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged six months and older to reduce the chance of becoming ill with influenza virus.

People who are at higher risk of catching influenza virus and developing complications are eligible for a free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). These people include:

You should get the influenza vaccine every year. This is because the most common strains of the virus that cause influenza change every year. The vaccine also changes every year to match these strains.

Children aged 6 months to under 5 years

Children under 5 years of age have a higher risk of hospitalisation and death if they contract the influenza virus. They are also more likely to contract the virus and spread it than adults.

The influenza vaccine has been shown to reduce the risks of serious complications in children and is free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years. The influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give your child influenza – in fact, it can save a child’s life.

The best time to get your child vaccinated is before winter and the start of flu season. Children getting the influenza vaccine for the first time will need two doses at least four weeks apart. Book both doses at the same time so you don’t forget the second. Children who have received one or more doses of influenza vaccine in previous years will only need one dose in current and future seasons.

For more information:

Pregnant women

Getting the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get severely ill from the flu.

Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalisation and even death. Severe illness during pregnancy can also be dangerous to your developing baby because it increases the chance of significant problems, such as premature labour and delivery.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself and your baby against becoming ill with the influenza virus. Vaccination during pregnancy can also protect babies in the first months after birth as protective antibodies are transferred through the placenta from mother to baby.

Influenza vaccine has been shown to be safe during pregnancy and is recommended in every pregnancy to protect both the mother and her unborn child. The influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and at most times of the year.

Expected side effects like injection site reactions do not occur more frequently in pregnant women than non-pregnant women.

For more information:

People aged 65 years and older

People 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu compared with young, healthy adults. This is in part because human immune defences become weaker with increasing age.

While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease.

The influenza vaccine is free and strongly recommended for all adults 65 years and older.

For more information:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience  significantly worse symptoms from influenza infections and are much more likely to be hospitalised. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to be hospitalised with influenza and associated complications, and are five times more likely than non-Indigenous children to die from influenza.

The Influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older.

Children aged 6 months to under 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.

People aged 6 months and older with underlying medical conditions

Certain medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of complications from influenza. Even if people with these conditions have them well controlled, they can become extremely unwell and may need to be treated in hospital if they have influenza.

All individuals aged 6 months and older with the following medical conditions are eligible for free vaccine.

  • Cardiac disease
  • Chronic respiratory conditions
  • Chronic neurological conditions
  • Immunocompromising conditions
  • Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • Renal disease
  • Haematological disorders
  • Long-term aspirin therapy in children aged 6 months to 10 years

Category

Vaccination strongly recommended for individuals with the following conditions

Cardiac disease

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

Immunocompromising conditions

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

Renal disease

Chronic renal failure

Haematological disorders

Haemoglobinopathies

Long-term aspirin therapy in children aged 6 months to 10 years

These children are at increased risk of Reye syndrome following influenza infection

Although not publicly funded, the influenza vaccine is highly recommended every year for the following groups:

  • people who live or work in aged care homes or long-term facilities
  • homeless people, and the people who care for them
  • healthcare workers
  • people who live or work in the same household as someone who is at high risk of serious disease from influenza
  • people who work in early childhood education and care
  • people who work in the chicken or pig industries, if there is an outbreak of bird flu or swine flu
  • people who are travelling overseas.
Page last updated on: 7 Apr 2020