Health officer explains why you must get a flu shot now

By getting a flu shot, you’re protecting yourself and the most vulnerable.

Expert tells why flu shot is vital

Dr Brett Sutton, Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, explains why it is important for everyone – not just those who are most vulnerable – to get a flu vaccination now. This is his advice.


We know influenza is a highly contagious viral infection spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes. Typically, Australia’s annual flu season occurs between April and October.

For the best possible protection this year, my advice to all Australians is to be vaccinated any time from now onwards. This should ensure they are protected by the time the disease begins to spread more widely in the community.

The record number of flu notifications last year – there were more than 48,000 cases – is a timely reminder about the importance of vaccination. Tragically, there was also a number of deaths.

This year, we expect to make more than one million doses of vaccine available.

Preparations are already under way to provide free immunisations for a number of key groups in the community.

Some of us are more vulnerable to complications and are eligible for free flu vaccine: the over-65s, pregnant women, children under five, people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Also, those with chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, chronic neurological conditions and smokers should all be immunised.

All these groups were among those who were affected by flu last year.

And remember, we all have the potential to spread flu to these at-risk groups.

People aged 65 years and over will receive a specially formulated flu vaccine that potentially increases their protection, especially against one strain of influenza that is more common and severe in the elderly.

For people under 65 and without significant existing medical conditions, getting vaccinated at any time is perfectly okay.

Our message this winter is simple: ‘You never forget the flu – don’t forget your flu shot.’

Flu vaccinations save lives.

When more people are vaccinated, fewer people become ill or suffer life-threatening complications from influenza.

The flu is not like a cold. Symptoms last on average one to two weeks, but for some, it takes several weeks to recover. It kills more than 3500 Australians each year.

Do what you can to avoid getting and sharing the flu: wash your hands thoroughly, cough into your elbow and get a shot in the arm.

If you’re really sick, stay away from work and other places where you’ll spread the flu. And don’t send ill children to school. They can sometimes be the ‘super-spreaders’ of diseases such as influenza.

Influenza vaccine will be available from general practitioners. Many of our pharmacies are also able to provide flu vaccines as well as advise about the disease.

Following the significant impact of the season last year on hospitals, Health Minister Greg Hunt chaired a round table in late 2017 to canvass possible options for improving planning for upcoming years and enhance the public’s awareness of and practice of protective measures against influenza.

An extensive communications campaign to alert the public about the coming flu season is one outcome of the roundtable, along with extensive planning within the health system.

If you’ve got the flu, visit your doctor, talk to a pharmacist or phone Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24 – 24 hours a day. Everyone needs to prepare for the coming flu season.

Additional information can be found on the Better Health Channel.

Are you convinced? Or were you already a regular? Were you affected by the flu last year?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Apr 2018
    had our flu shots, yesterday! Be crazy not to get a shot to at least give another barrier against the dreaded flu.
    Old Geezer
    27th Apr 2018
    I'd rather get the flu than a flu shot.
    27th Apr 2018
    Have you ever had flu? And I mean real flu,not the common cold that everyone nowadays seems to call flu. You might think differently if you had I promise you.

    It's not too late to change your mind and possibly avoid a horrible illness with the possibility of complications.

    My friends and I have noticed that since we started having these jabs we have had less common colds than usual too.
    27th Apr 2018
    I’m with you, OG.
    Old Geezer
    27th Apr 2018
    Only people I know who have had the flu have had the flu shot.
    27th Apr 2018
    Tell that to the relatives of the thousand people that die every year from the flu in Australia, or the many more that have come close to death.
    In all but one of the years, I've had the flu injection for the last 20 years and I have never had the flu since getting these injections. In the year that I didn't get the flu injection, I got the flu.
    My wife doesn't like getting the flu injection and she gets the flu most years.
    28th Apr 2018
    Good on ya Old Geezer! Karma is just around the corner waiting to reciprocate with a gift of flu, just for you !
    27th Apr 2018
    We do NOT get the flue shot, never have and never will and have NOT suffered with the flu for years, the last was about in the 1970s. We do keep our Glutathione levels raised to boost our immune system and this appears to be all that is needed. What is so disappointing is to see our friends all deteriorating and suffering terribly after getting the flu shot even to the point of not even being ably to leave the ship on port days on cruises because they are so ill with flu after having the shot to save them getting the flu? We are well into our 70s, have wonderful health and do not want to risk it with the ingredients sent into our blood stream with the flu shot. This of course is only our opinion on what we observe, they doctors must know better???? Perhaps?
    27th Apr 2018
    I never thought that I would join the anti vaccine brigade as I have always agreed with vaccination for myself and children. However, I’m suspicious about the flu vaccine, I had it once and I was so sick with flu symptoms I vowed never again. Yes, I’ve been told that I must have had the flu germ already in me but I hear about so many people who have the same thing happen to them that it’s too much of a coincidence.
    Old Geezer
    27th Apr 2018
    The flu shot nearly killed my father. He was in ICU for weeks.
    27th Apr 2018
    Tress, the exact thing happened to me. I haven’t had a flu shot since. My husband has one yearly, and swears by it. Neither of us has had the flu for years. I’m in a quandary this year
    Polly Esther
    27th Apr 2018
    I opened the window and influenza :-))
    Having the flue shot? absolutely!! booked in with the quack for next week. Others can do as they please of course, but if you don't have the jab and get the flue please don't spread it around.
    27th Apr 2018
    And if you have the jab, get the flu but not as bad, please stay home as well. If people isolated themselves when contagious we would have less illness.
    27th Apr 2018
    My employer provides the flu Vax every year for all staff because we work with people with compromised immune systems. Even if you don't get the flu yourself you can still carry the virus and pass it on. None of the staff have ever got so much as a sore arm after having the shot. And it's true the the flu shot cannot give you the infection. If it did do you seriously think that young children. Pregnant women, the over 65s and those with chronic diseases would be given it free? Common sense people.
    27th Apr 2018
    Exactly KSS. But when people make up their minds that the flu shot gives people the flu there is nothing you can do.

    We are booked in on Monday morning at 7.30...there is a special clinic for an hour.

    As someone who has experienced the flu I never, ever want it again. Even if I should get a small dose of it even after the injection it will be nowhere as severe.

    Good luck to those who are choosing not to have the shot. I sure hope you don't get the flu.
    Old Geezer
    27th Apr 2018
    No way am I putting my life at risk for something that is simply not necessary.
    27th Apr 2018
    And when you get the slight dose after the jab please stay home and keep it to yourself.
    29th Apr 2018
    I have no medical qualifications but I take note of those who do.
    27th Apr 2018
    That's the key, stay away from work and other crowded places. Stay home when symptoms are severe. Todays culture of "soldier on" has possibly contributed to the mutations of new viruses we are seeing every year, developing to beat the anti flu medicines. I get really upset when I go out and am coughed at by children running all over the supermarket with their germs, not to mention infecting the food. Wise up people!
    27th Apr 2018
    Gee! thought I was on the wrong site for a mo - the gubbermint offering something gratis for seniors and people are rejecting it ? What's the go here: usually everything the govt proffers most regulars howl it down as totally inadequate.

    By all means, exercise your right to decide but by declining a Dept Health recommendation on the basis of "never had a shot, never had the flu" is tantamount to ignorance. Never say never !

    Flu is evolving new strains faster than development of clinical controls and transmission across our globalized community is carried at jet speed.
    Retiring Well
    28th Apr 2018
    Have any of you read the documentation that comes with that flu shot?
    28th Apr 2018
    "Read the (docs)" ? ...In a word - no. But let me take a wild guess VCBB, does it amount to a disclaimer, indemnifying the big pharma against litigation from all/any problems or side effects arising as a result of using their product ?
    I'll take my chances, in the event of reaction then at least the medico's have a fair idea what they're dealing with.
    Think of it like insurance cover - we all think we're totally covered till such time as a claim is made - it's only then we realize the fine print has it otherwise.
    Old Geezer
    1st May 2018
    I would rather die from the flu than have that poison jabbed into me.
    28th Apr 2018
    Just the sort of stupid answer one would ex pect ft om an old geezer
    Old Geezer
    1st May 2018
    Well I certainly don't want to get cancer again so I'm keeping well away from such poisons.
    28th Apr 2018
    I have the flu shot every year, we went overseas before the new season flu shot came out in march last year, I dropped like a brick in hours from the flu when we got home, was in hospital within hours of becoming ill, I have had my flu shot this morning and will never miss one ever, if you haven't had this type of flu I can tell you you won't ever want to suffer from it.
    29th Apr 2018
    Spot on trickyv...once you have had sure do not want it ever again!!
    29th Apr 2018
    I got a flu shot 18 years ago, I have been on a disablememnt pension ever since NO THANKS
    Old Geezer
    1st May 2018
    That's what I am afraid of too. I am allergic to so many drugs now and even have trouble with Panadol.
    2nd May 2018
    It would be stupidity to get the flu shot if you have allergies. You had not put this up before OG so I understand.

    I wish you good luck in NOT getting this flu.

    Bill Gates has warned about a pandemic he believes is on the horizon.

    "The world is rapidly heading towards globalization with advancements in technology and with the given pace, it is also susceptible to pandemics. This is what Bill Gates believes, and he is of the opinion that with the increasing mobility, there’s a significant probability of a new flu epidemic against which our society is unprepared.

    Speaking at a discussion about epidemics organized by Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine, the billionaire philanthropist said that the world and the U.S., in particular, is falling behind in “pandemic preparedness”. He spoke about the possibility of new flu that could kill more than 30 million people in just six months.

    Gates said that he’s super-optimist and believes that life keeps getting better for most people in the world through new immunization and interventions that are helping in eradicating diseases like polio and malaria. However, "there's one area though where the world isn't making much progress," Gates said, "and that's pandemic preparedness."

    He pointed out the risk of future pandemics taking the example of an outbreak of Swine Flu in 2009 and the Ebola epidemic, where the U.S. and world were too slow to respond. With the ease of developing biological weapons of mass destruction, Gates fears that the world is at a risk of a bioterror attack.

    Gates showed a simulation developed by the Institute of Disease Modelling which predicted that the new flu similar to the one in the 1918 pandemic that wiped out 50 million people, could kill nearly 33 million people worldwide in just six months."
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    21st Apr 2020
    I think there is strong evidence about vulnerability to flu being somewhat genetic- I inherited from my parents but that’s the only health vulnerability I have which is really helped by the vaccine. However as it is viral does it make me more vulnerable to the new corona 19 virus?

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