Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that causes widespread illness and deaths every year. It is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children under 5 years. Vaccination is our best defence against influenza viruses. From 2020, the influenza vaccine is available free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program. Influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over.
It is important to get the influenza vaccine every year as influenza vaccines can change from year to year as new strains of the virus appear. Getting vaccinated from April will give you the best protection before the peak influenza period, which usually occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia.
Influenza vaccines through the NIP are available from GPs, community health clinics, Aboriginal Medical Services and other immunisation providers in your state or territory.
The following groups are eligible for a free vaccine through the NIP in 2020, due to their increased risk of complications from influenza:
- all children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
- pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
- people aged 65 years and over.
If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can still get the vaccine from your GP (with a private prescription), a pharmacy immunisation clinic, or another immunisation provider.
To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services.
Watch Mia’s story
In 2017 our daughter, Mia was just like any other girl her age doing everyday things – swimming, gymnastics and riding bikes.
One day in October that year, Mia went from being her happy, healthy self to being critically ill on life support in hospital.
Within 2 days of coming down with the flu, she was fighting for her life. Mia hadn’t had the flu vaccine and was suffering from sepsis – a complication of the flu.
Influenza is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children under 5 and can sometimes be fatal. This doesn’t have to be the case.
The influenza vaccine is safe and effective, and it’s free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years.
Mia survived complications from flu and despite the heartbreak and challenges, is now thriving.
We’ll always wonder if Mia would have been ok had she been vaccinated.