Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that causes widespread illness and deaths every year. It is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children under 5 years. Vaccination is our best defence against influenza viruses. From 2020, the influenza vaccine is available free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program. Influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over.
It is important to get the influenza vaccine every year as influenza vaccines can change from year to year as new strains of the virus appear. Getting vaccinated from April will give you the best protection before the peak influenza period, which usually occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia.
Influenza vaccines through the NIP are available from GPs, community health clinics, Aboriginal Medical Services and other immunisation providers in your state or territory.
The following groups are eligible for a free vaccine through the NIP in 2020, due to their increased risk of complications from influenza:
- all children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
- pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
- people aged 65 years and over.
If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can still get the vaccine from your GP (with a private prescription), a pharmacy immunisation clinic, or another immunisation provider.
To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services.
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Influenza vaccination and COVID-19
While there are requirements for people to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can leave home for essential activities, including attending an appointment to get the flu vaccine.
Only people who do not have COVID-19 or who are not a suspected case of COVID-19 should leave to get the flu vaccine. It is recommended that you only leave to get the vaccine if you have made an appointment with your vaccination provider and phoned ahead to check that your vaccination provider has the vaccine available.
If you are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19, you should remain in isolation and should not leave to get the flu vaccine.
Find out more about influenza vaccination:
- Don’t take the risk this season – brochure for consumers
- Flu (influenza) immunisation service
- Influenza vaccination for children – Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation
- Influenza vaccines – Frequently Asked Questions
Find the latest advice and updates about COVID-19: