Flu vaccines available from 1st April

February 11th, 2020

The Influenza Immunisation Programme starts from 1 April each year, subject to influenza vaccine being available for distribution.

High uptake of influenza immunisation in 2019 meant that stock ran low and priority had to be given to those most at risk. Get in early this year to ensure you are protected.

Why and when should you get the flu shot?

Influenza can be anywhere. Contact with the influenza virus is almost unavoidable, and while contact does not necessarily mean infection, it does mean that you are  never far from the possibility of catching influenza. 

Annual vaccination is required for two important reasons:

  • Protection lessens over time
  • The circulating influenza strains change each year and may not have been in the previous year’s vaccine

The best time to have the vaccine is prior to influenza entering the community, before the start of the winter season. This is generally April-May each year. Giving the vaccine nin April is expected to provide better protection during the peak of influenza activity which is expected around August.  The vaccine can still be given later than May, even when influenza is already around in the community, as protective antibody levels can develop rapidly, from as little as four days after immunisation.

Are you eligible for a free vaccine?

The following groups of patients are eligible for free influenza vaccine:

  1. Anyone aged 65 years and over
  2. Pregnant women (any trimester)
  3. Anyone under 65 years with any of the following medical conditions:
    1. Heart (ischaemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease)
    2. Cerebrovascular disease
    3. Lung (asthma, if on regular preventer, chronically impaired lung function)
    4. Diabetes
    5. Chronic kidney disease
    6. Cancer (excluding basal and squamous cell skin cancers if not invasive)
    7. Children aged four years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
    8. Other qualifying conditions (autoimmune disease, immune suppression/deficiency, HIV, transplant recipients, neuromuscular and CNS diseases/disorders, haemoglobinopathies, children on long term aspirin, cochlear implant, errors of metabolism at risk of major metabolic decompensation, pre and post splenectomy, Down’s syndrome.)

Who can have Influenza Vaccine?

  • Anyone from age 6 months of age can be given an Influenza vaccine.
  • For those patients NOT eligible for a free vaccine (see above), the cost is $36.