Influenza (flu) immunisation service
Influenza (flu) vaccines are given as a needle each year to protect against the most common strains of the virus. They can be provided through a range of recognised immunisation providers. If you're eligible, you can get the influenza vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Why get immunised against influenza?
Influenza is a very contagious infection of the airways. It affects people of all ages. Although it can be a mild disease, it can also cause very serious illness in otherwise healthy people. It can require hospitalisation and can cause death.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza.
By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.
Who should get immunised against influenza?
Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for people aged 6 months and over. Anyone who wants to protect themselves against influenza can talk to their immunisation provider about getting immunised.
The following people are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- People aged 65 years or over.
All other individuals not included in the categories above can purchase the vaccine from their immunisation provider.
In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your immunisation provider or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.
As the influenza vaccine only contains minute traces of egg protein, people with egg allergy, including a history of anaphylaxis, can be safely vaccinated with influenza vaccines. If you have an egg allergy please discuss this with your immunisation provider.
Aged care workers may also be required to get the flu vaccine. See Advice and resources for aged care workers for information.
Where can you get an influenza immunisation?
Influenza immunisations are available, in each Australian state and territory.
See Where can I get immunised? for information.
How do you get immunised against influenza?
Influenza vaccines available in Australia are given as a needle. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. Your immunisation provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for you or your child's influenza immunisation.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration website provides product information and consumer medicine information for each vaccine available.
When should you get the influenza vaccine?
Annual immunisation is recommended as the influenza virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine changes accordingly.
Getting vaccinated in autumn is recommended. This provides protection in time for the peak influenza season (usually in winter in most parts of Australia). However, it is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.
It is currently not recommend to have an influenza vaccine with a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day. An interval of at least 7 days between a dose of influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is advised.
When are influenza vaccines available?
Seasonal influenza vaccines under the NIP are expected to be available from April 2021. Timing may be different for your local area. 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.
What are the possible side effects of influenza immunisation?
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common side effects of influenza vaccines include:
- pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
- fever, tiredness, body aches.
Talk to your immunisation provider about possible side effects of the influenza vaccines, or if you or your child have side effects that worry you.
The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.
Do I need to pay for influenza immunisation?
Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.
If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.
Data on vaccinations given for the 2021 flu season
- Influenza resources
- Immunisation throughout life
- NIP Schedule
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance
If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.