Influenza (flu) vaccine

Information about influenza vaccines, who it is recommended for, how and where to get vaccinated. If you are eligible, you can get the influenza vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

Influenza (also called flu) is a very contagious infection of the airways. It affects people of all ages but is especially serious for babies, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.  It can require hospitalisation and can cause death.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and your family from serious disease caused by influenza.

Influenza vaccines are given each year to protect against the most common strains of the virus.

Who should get vaccinated against influenza

Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over. Talk to your health professional about getting vaccinated.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends influenza vaccination for specific groups.

The influenza vaccines are free under the National Immunisation Program for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • People aged 65 years or over
  • People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
    • cardiac disease
    • chronic respiratory conditions
    • immunocompromising conditions
    • haematological disorders
    • chronic metabolic disorder
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic neurological condition
    • long term aspirin therapy in children aged 5 to 10 years.

Your health professional can advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition. See also Immunisation for people with medical conditions.

Children under nine years getting their influenza vaccination for the first time need two doses of vaccine, given one month apart.

In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your health professional or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, you can purchase the vaccine from your health professional or pharmacy.

If you are an aged care worker you may also be required to get an influenza vaccine. Learn more about responsibilities of residential aged care providers.

People with allergies

The egg based influenza vaccines under the NIP only contain minute traces of egg protein. If you have an egg allergy, including a history of anaphylaxis, you can safely have an influenza vaccine. Please talk to your health professional.

You should not receive the influenza vaccine if you have experienced anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any influenza vaccine or anaphylaxis after any component of an influenza vaccine.

How to get vaccinated against influenza

Influenza vaccines come as a single vaccine that covers several strains of the flu virus. It is given as a needle, usually in the upper arm. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. Your health professional can tell you which vaccine they will use for you or your child's influenza vaccination.

A cell-based vaccine, Flucelvax Quad, is now available under the NIP for people aged 5 to 64 years who have certain medical conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from influenza. 

Vaccines that are free under the NIP for eligible people aged:

* NIP funding only for First Nations people, pregnant women, and people with specified medical conditions.

** For people aged 65 years and over.

Egg-based vaccines include the following influenza virus strains:

  • A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Thailand/8/2022 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Austria/1359417/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

Cell-based vaccines include the influenza strains listed below:

  • A/Wisconsin/67/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Massachusetts/18/2022 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Austria/1359417/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

All influenza vaccines available for seasonal use in Australia are listed in the Australian Immunisation Handbook under Vaccines, dosage and administration.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration website provides product information and consumer medicine information 

When to get the influenza vaccine

New season influenza vaccines under the NIP are expected to be available from April but timing may be different for your local area. Check with your health professional to find out when they will have the National Immunisation Program vaccines available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.

You should get your annual influenza vaccine anytime from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September. The highest level of protection happens in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.

It is never too late to get your vaccination since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for pregnant women at any stage during pregnancy.

Influenza vaccines can be given on the same day with a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no set time to wait between having a COVID-19 infection and then having the influenza vaccine. Once you are feeling well and have no fever, you can get an influenza vaccine.

Where to get vaccinated

You can get your influenza vaccine from a range of health services. Find out more about getting vaccinated.

Not all of health services will have the free National Immunisation Program vaccines. Check with your health professional or health service to find out:

  • about the specific vaccines they can provide
  • when they will be available and when you can book in to have the vaccine
  • if there is a consultation or service fee to get the free vaccines.

Possible side effects of influenza vaccination

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and only last a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.

Common side effects of influenza vaccines include:

  • drowsiness or tiredness
  • muscle aches
  • pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)
  • mild fever.

Talk to your health professional 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.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination

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