Date published: 
29 May 2020
Type: 
News
Intended audience: 
General public
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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.

    Watch Mia's story

    Mia's story thumbnail
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    Read transcript

    VO Peter Wilkinson: In 2017, our daughter Mia was just like any other girl her age, doing everyday things – swimming, gymnastics, and riding bikes.

    One day in October that year, Mia went from being her happy, healthy self, to being critically ill on life support in hospital.

    VO Amy Wilkinson: Within 2 days of coming down with the flu, she was fighting for her life. Mia hadn’t had the flu vaccine and was suffering from sepsis — a complication of the flu.

    Dr Nicole White: Children, especially those under 5, can become seriously ill from influenza – which can sometimes be fatal. The influenza vaccine is safe, effective and free for children 6 months to under 5 years.

    VO Peter Wilkinson: Mia survived complications from flu and despite the heartbreak and challenges, is now thriving. We’ll always wonder if Mia would have been ok had she been vaccinated.

    VO Dr Nicole White: With lower exposure to influenza last year due to COVID-19, there is a greater risk of complications from influenza this year, so it’s even more important to get your kids vaccinated. For more information visit the website or talk to your healthcare provider.

    VO: Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.

    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:

    Find the latest advice and updates about COVID-19: