With Winter on its way, it’s time to start thinking about protecting yourself from influenza (commonly known as the flu). The flu virus is always changing, so the flu vaccine changes too. Here are some common questions answered about why, when and who is eligible for the flu injection.

Why should I get the flu shot?

Vaccination experts recommend that everyone over six months of age get vaccinated to reduce their chance of getting the flu.

Every year the flu vaccine changes to match the flu virus that is most likely to be around during the flu season. Getting vaccinated every year is the best way of preventing the flu and any associated illness.

There is emerging evidence that the flu vaccine gives the most protection within the first three to four months after it is given. It’s important to make sure you are protected in time for when the flu is most common, from around June to September.

Who is eligible for the free flu shot under the National Immunisation Program?

The vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for people who are more likely to be affected by complications from the flu. This includes:

  • People 65 years and over
  • Older people aged 65 years and over are more likely to be affected by complications associated with seasonal flu.
  • Pregnant women
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People with certain medical conditions such as heart disease, severe asthma, chronic lung conditions, impaired immunity, diabetes, kidney disease, blood disorders and children aged six months to 10 years on long-term aspirin therapy.

New flu vaccines for people aged 65 years and over

This year, there are two new vaccines available to provide better protection for people aged 65 years and over.

If you are aged 65 years or over, speak to your doctor or vaccination provider to find out more about receiving one of the new vaccines. These vaccines cannot be given to people aged under 65 years.

Flu vaccines for children

All flu vaccines are age-specific. Let your doctor know the age of your child before they get their flu vaccine. This will make sure they receive the correct dose and brand.

If your child is aged six months to less than nine years and has never had the flu vaccine before, experts recommend they have two doses in the first year they receive the vaccine. They should have the doses at least four weeks apart. After that only one flu vaccine dose is needed each year.

When a child receives the flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar 13) together, they may be more likely to develop a fever. Speak to your doctor or vaccination provider if you have any concerns.

This season’s Flu Vaccination is now available at the Lorne Medical Centre. For further information or to book an appointment, please contact the Lorne Medical Centre on 5289 4333.