Parents of Western Australian pre-schoolers are being urged to take advantage of a free influenza vaccination to protect their children from the respiratory virus during the upcoming influenza season.
Though influenza vaccination is recommended for people of all ages, pre-schoolers are particularly susceptible to the virus which can lead to serious illness, resulting in hospitalisation and in some cases even death.
During last year’s influenza season, 11 per cent of cases reported in WA were in children under five years of age and 27 per cent of those children were admitted to hospital as a result of their illness.
Young children are also a major source of influenza transmission in the community.
Vaccination is recommended within the next month to optimise protection over the peak period for influenza infection in WA, which is typically from July to October.
It is available free from a range of immunisation providers including the Central Immunisation Clinic at 16 Rheola Street in West Perth, community health clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services.
GP clinics also have access to the Government-funded vaccine but some may charge patients a consult fee, so parents are advised to check costs in advance.
Other vulnerable groups eligible for the free vaccine include:
- Pregnant women;
- People 65 years and older;
- Aboriginal people of all ages; and
- People from six months of age who are at increased risk of severe influenza due to an existing medical condition such as heart disease, kidney disease, a chronic respiratory condition or other chronic disease.
People aged 65 and over can receive their free vaccine from pharmacies, GPs, community clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services. Some providers may charge an administration fee.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“Influenza can cause very serious illness and across Australia about 1,500 children are hospitalised with the virus every year.
“That is why the State Government makes the influenza vaccine available free to young children and other vulnerable groups within our community.
“Parents can be assured that the vaccine used for children is safe and offers good protection against influenza.
“WA also has rigorous measures in place to ensure the early detection and reporting of potential adverse reactions.”