Annual Flu Shot

Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious viral infection that is responsible for major outbreaks of respiratory illness around the world, usually in the winter months. Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis, which often require hospitalisation.

The flu virus is especially dangerous for elderly people, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and very young children, as well as for people with underlying medical conditions. It is estimated that each year, flu contributes to an average of 13,500 hospitalisations

Prevention

Vaccination offers effective protection against influenza, although vaccines need to be given each year as flu viruses are always changing.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone from six months of age, but is available free under the National Immunisation Program for people who face a high risk from influenza and its complications. These are:

  • People aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged six months to less than five years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait people who are ages 15 years and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes that can lead to complications from influenza.

Questions and Answers for Influenza (flu) immunisation

Three things you might not know about the flu shot:

  1. There is no live virus in the flu shot.
  2. The composition of the vaccine changes every year
  3. The flu shot is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy.

I received a flu shot last year, do I still need to get one this year?

Yes. The strains of flu virus can change from year to year. The vaccine may also change to protect against the most recent flu virus strains. Even if the flu strains do not change, yearly vaccination is still recommended as immunity from flu vaccination is not long lasting.

Immunisation is recommended in early autumn to allow time for immunity to be strengthened before the flu season starts.

Is it safe for me to get the flu shot if I am pregnant?

Yes. The flu vaccine can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are at the increased risk of severe disease of complications from the flu. Immunising against flu during pregnancy can not only protect women but provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months after birth.

Is it safe for me, as an adult to get the flu shot?

Yes. All flu vaccines currently available in Australia are safe to use in adults. All vaccines in Australia must pass stringent safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.