The Morrison McCormack Government is helping parents to protect their children from seasonal influenza, a serious and potentially deadly condition by providing free flu vaccines and an evidence based campaign to increase the uptake of vaccinations.
This year, for the first time, all children aged from six months to less than five years are eligible for a free flu vaccine through the Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Young children are among the people most vulnerable to complications from influenza. Influenza is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children under five and can be fatal, even in previously healthy children.
So far in 2020, there have been over 1,800 cases of flu in children under five years of age, and sadly one death. There have been over 20,000 cases of influenza overall, and 36 deaths in 2020, down from approximately 110,000 cases and 369 deaths at this time in 2019.
There is no doubt that vaccination is the most effective and safe way to protect young children against influenza and its complications.
In addition, our Government has launched an online campaign to increase uptake of the influenza vaccination. The campaign provides evidence based information for parents, to increase confidence in and acceptance of seasonal influenza vaccination.
The awareness campaign, running over a four week period in June, will use online advertising and social media channels targeted to parents and carers.
This year, our Government has secured a record 18 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines, to ensure that all Australians can receive this protection. This is more than double the number of vaccines provided under the NIP in 2017, at 8.3 million.
Vaccinating against the flu saves and protects lives and is particularly important this year due to COVID-19.
Whilst flu vaccination does not prevent against COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting our general health.
The 2020 influenza vaccines are available now to eligible people under the NIP from a range of vaccination providers including GPs, community health clinics and eligible pharmacies in some states.
As well as children under five and over six months, free flu vaccine is available through the NIP for:
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy;
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older;
- people aged 65 years and older;
- people aged six months and older with certain medical risk factors.