Influenza (flu) vaccine (2024)

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.

TheAustralian Immunisation Handbookrecommends influenza vaccination for specific groups.

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

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleaged6 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 ahigher 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 timeneed two dosesof 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 orcontact your state or territory Department of Healthto 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 aboutresponsibilities 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 ofanaphylaxis, you can safely have an influenza vaccine. Please talk to your health professional.

You should not receive the influenza vaccine if you have experiencedanaphylaxisafter a previous dose of any influenza vaccine oranaphylaxisafter 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'sinfluenza 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/phu*ket/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/phu*ket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

All influenza vaccines available for seasonal use in Australia are listed in theAustralian Immunisation HandbookunderVaccines, dosage and administration.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration website providesproduct information and consumer medicine information

When to get the influenza vaccine

New season influenza vaccines under the NIP are expected to be available from Aprilbut 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 theTherapeutic Goods Administrationwebsitelists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination

Getting vaccinated against influenza – Resource collection

These resources provide information about getting vaccinated against influenza in 2024.

Influenza (flu) vaccine (2024)

FAQs

How often do you get influenza vaccine? ›

Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get an annual influenza vaccine, including even healthy adults. Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications or people who live with or care for people at higher risk for serious influenza complications.

How long is the influenza shot good for? ›

Protection lasts around 6 to 8 months, starting two weeks after you receive the vaccine. Once the season ends, the flu shot does not protect you any longer: you will need a new vaccination for the following year's season. In fact, you should get the shot with the current season's vaccines the FDA approves yearly.

How effective is the influenza flu vaccine? ›

CDC vaccine effectiveness studies measure two outcomes: laboratory confirmed flu illness that results in a doctor's visit or laboratory-confirmed flu that results in hospitalization. For these outcomes, a VE point estimate of 60% means that on average the flu vaccine reduces a person's risk of a flu outcome by 60%.

Are there 2 types of flu vaccine this year? ›

Flu vaccines available in the US include:

High-dose, egg-based influenza vaccine (which has 4 times the antigen compared with a standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine) Standard-dose, adjuvanted egg-based influenza vaccine.

How many months does flu shot immunity last? ›

Yes, the flu shot wears off in about six months. The flu shot does not provide long-lasting protection, which is another reason we need to get one every year. When should I get a flu shot? We typically suggest getting the flu shot in the early fall, before the virus starts circulating in the community.

How long do flu antibodies last after having the flu? ›

Influenza virus-specific hemagglutination inhibition antibodies persist up to 18 months following infection and vaccination.

Does the flu shot 100% prevent the flu? ›

Reviews of past studies have found that the flu vaccine lowers the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% when the vaccine matches the spreading flu viruses. Even when the vaccine doesn't completely prevent the flu, it may lessen the severity of your illness.

Should you get a flu shot if you've been exposed to the flu? ›

The shot offers 60 percent protection to those exposed to the flu; 40 percent will experience flu symptoms or a weaker version of the flu, depending on their age, health, and immune system.

How long does a flu shot take to kick in? ›

Does the flu vaccine work right away? No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That's why it's best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community.

How long after a flu shot does Guillain-Barré develop? ›

On very rare occasions, they may develop GBS in the days or weeks after getting a vaccination.

What are the side effects of the flu shot for seniors? ›

Flu vaccine side effects are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Some side effects that may occur from a flu shot include soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given, headache (low grade), fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue.

Can I take Tylenol after a flu shot? ›

Influenza vaccine is an under-utilized preventive measure, partly because of the unfounded perception that fever and myalgias frequently follow vaccination. While acetaminophen may decrease these infrequent side effects, it may also alter the immune response to vaccination.

How long does a flu vaccination last? ›

Your immunity is strongest and most effective for 3 to 4 months after you are vaccinated. Flu season in Australia usually runs from June to September, peaking in August, so it is important to get your flu shot in April or May. BOOK YOUR VACCINATION — Use the Service Finder to book a COVID-19 vaccination.

How far apart do you get flu shot? ›

Children between 6 months and 8 years may need two doses of the flu vaccine, given at least four weeks apart, the first time they are given a flu vaccine. After that, they can receive single annual doses of the flu vaccine. Check with your child's healthcare professional.

Is a new flu shot needed every year? ›

Why is it important to get a flu vaccine EVERY year? Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests will be common during the upcoming flu season. Your protection from a flu vaccine declines over time.

Do flu shots need to be 12 months apart? ›

Flu Vaccination Can Be More or Less Than 12 Months Apart

roughly a year between flu vaccines. However, there is no added risk if your shot falls less than 12 months apart, and receiving a flu shot every flu season is advisable regardless of whether they are 11 months apart or 15 months apart.

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