What is influenza?
Influenza (commonly known as the flu) is caused by a virus and mainly spreads from person to person through the air by coughing, sneezing, talking, or on a person’s hands, surface or object.
The flu virus infects your respiratory system such as the nose, throat and sometimes your lungs. Symptoms such as fever, sore throat and muscle aches develop suddenly and last about a week. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can cause complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis which require hospitalisation.
Flu can also make some underlying medical conditions worse. There is a need to get vaccinated every year because the viruses circulating in the community continually change and immunity from the vaccine does not last a long time.
4 things you might not know about the flu shot!
- There is no live virus in the flu shot.
- The composition of the vaccine changes every year.
- The flu shot is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy.
- The Flu shot is not recommended for children under 6 months of age.
Can I receive free flu vaccine under the National Immunisation Program?
The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone from 6 months of age who wishes to be protected against influenza. Free flu vaccine is available for the following people:
- Anyone aged 65 years and over
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months up to 5 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Anyone aged 6 months and over with one or more of the following medical conditions:
- heart disease
- severe asthma
- chronic lung condition
- diseases of the nervous system
- impaired immunity eg. cancer, kidney problems
- Children aged 6 months to 10 years who are on long-term aspirin therapy
I received a flu shot last year, do I still need to get one this year?
Yes. Immunity decreases over time and flu vaccination is needed each year to ensure you continue to be protected. Vaccination is recommended in early autumn to allow time for immunity to be strengthened before the flu season starts.