Annual vaccination is the single most effective measure to prevent influenza. In healthy people aged under 65 years, the influenza vaccine is 70% to 90% effective in preventing the flu. Annual vaccination reduces your chances of catching the flu, and it may also reduce the severity of the flu if you do catch it. Every year, the influenza vaccine is changed as required to ensure it protects against the most recent virus strains.
Who should be vaccinated?
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends annual influenza vaccination for any person aged six months or older who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza. Influenza vaccination is strongly recommended for groups such as people aged 65 years or over, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 years or older, people with underlying medical conditions and health professionals. For specific recommendations about whether you should receive this year’s influenza vaccine, refer to our influenza and immunisation fact sheet.
Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
Like all medications, vaccines may have side effects. Most side effects are minor, last a short time and do not lead to any long-term problems. The viruses in the vaccine are inactivated (killed) and cannot cause flu. However, some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms for up to 48 hours as their immune system responds to the vaccine. Possible symptoms may include swelling and soreness where the injection was given, fever, tiredness and aching muscles. Immediate allergic reactions to influenza vaccine are rare, however if you are allergic to eggs, you should not be vaccinated.
When should I be vaccinated?
The best time to be vaccinated against influenza is between March and May, before the influenza season starts. Vaccination usually takes up to two weeks to be effective, so the sooner you are vaccinated, the better.
Where can I be vaccinated?
- You can be vaccinated by a doctor or immunisation nurse at your local medical centre.
- Check with your local council to see whether they have free immunisation clinics.
- Check with your employer to see if they offer free influenza vaccinations for staff.
How much does it cost?
If you are in a high risk group, you can be vaccinated for free under the Immunise Australia program. Some employers also offer their staff free influenza vaccine. If you don’t have access to free vaccine, you can arrange to be vaccinated by your doctor (your doctor will give you a prescription to purchase vaccine).
QLD Health, Flu Facts@ 28/2/2013 <http://www.health.qld.gov.au/flu/vaccinated/default.asp>