Flu vaccine

Each year influenza (flu) vaccine is developed to protect you against the most common strains of flu. Influenza disease can be very serious leading to complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), neurological conditions and other bacterial infections.

Vaccines recommendations

The flu vaccine is recommended for any person six months of age and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the flu.
All funded (free) vaccines available for use in Australia for the 2020 influenza season will be

  • Quadrivalent (containing four strains- two influenza A and two influenza B)

This site will be updated with the quadrivalent vaccines available under the 2020 Annual Influenza Program once this information has been confirmed with the relevant agencies.

Availability of flu vaccines

Funded flu vaccine is expected to be available from April but this can vary.

Several brands of flu vaccine from different manufacturers are used and they become available at different times. Some flu vaccines are used only in the funded program, some are used only for private programs and others may be used for both funded and private programs.

When adequate stocks are available, funded flu vaccine is distributed to immunisation providers using the established South Australian vaccine distribution system. Privately purchased flu vaccine supplies are arranged by the providers that use them and may be available at a different time to funded flu vaccines.

Check with your immunisation provider to find out approximately when they will have the vaccine available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.

Flu vaccines are free through the 2020 Annual Influenza Program for eligible groups such as:

  • pregnant women
  • people aged six months and older with medical risk factors.
  • all children aged six months to less than five years of age
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over
  • everyone aged 65 years and over

All children six months to less than nine years of age receiving flu vaccine for the first time should receive two doses at least one month apart to improve their immune response. Otherwise, if a child in this age group has received at least one flu vaccine in a previous flu season they only require one dose each subsequent year.

Although not funded, the flu vaccine is also strongly recommended for:

  • people who may potentially pass on the flu to people at high risk of complications from flu infection
  • people providing essential services (for example, police and ambulance officers)
  • workers in other industries (corporations wishing to reduce absenteeism in the workforce).

How the vaccine is given

Flu vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, and into the top of the arm from 12 months of age.

People with egg allergy

People with egg allergy, including a history of anaphylaxis, can be safety vaccinated with influenza vaccines.

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the flu vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • drowsiness, tiredness or irritability
  • muscle aches
  • low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.

Some side effects may appear as ‘flu like’ symptoms, but all flu vaccines currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause a flu infection.

Rare side effects may include a severe allergic reaction.

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can often be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • resting
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the annual flu vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre, Aboriginal health centre or an approved pharmacy.

Further information

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

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