Time to get your flu vaccine

A statement by the Head of the interim Australian Centre for Disease Control Professor Paul Kelly.

Date published:
Media type:
General public

World Immunisation Week (24 – 30 April) is a timely reminder for everyone in Australia to book their annual flu vaccination.

Free vaccines are now available for people most at risk of complications through the Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program. For those not eligible, you can purchase a vaccine through your immunisation provider.

People can get their vaccine at general practices, pharmacies, and immunisation clinics – and in many cases, at their workplace.

Although we can’t predict the 2024 flu season, we can look at, and learn from, key outcomes from the 2023 season.

Last year, the highest notification rates for flu were in children under 14 years. But concerningly, the vaccine uptake was very low in this population group.

In good news, the 2023 vaccine was very effective at protecting people from needing to go to hospital or visit their GP.

Children under 5 years of age are at increased risk of getting severely ill or dying from the flu.

In Australia, 39 people died from the flu last year – and of these, 9 were children younger than 16 years. This was higher than the number of flu-associated deaths in children in 2022 and in many pre-COVID-19 pandemic years.

This is a tragic reminder that the flu is not the common cold, which people often mistake it for. It is a serious virus that can cause severe illness, hospitalisation and death among otherwise healthy children and adults.

I encourage everyone 6 months of age or over to get vaccinated against the flu. It could save your life!

People eligible for free flu vaccine doses include children aged 6 months to under 5 years, pregnant people, First Nations Australians, people aged 65 years or older and people with certain medical conditions that put them at greater risk.

For convenience and if recommended, COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.


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