Each year the Australian Government’s Department of Health make the flu vaccine available for free for those most at risk from influenza and its complications.
The vaccine remains the best and most effective way to prevent the flu and potential related illnesses.
The groups most at risk from influenza who are eligible for a free vaccine are:
- people aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- very young children
- and those with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma.
The 2017 flu vaccine has been available since April this year from GP surgeries and other immunisation providers. Often, pharmacies and hospitals will arrange to give the vaccine on certain days as well. Bear in mind that while the vaccine itself is free if you fit the criteria above, your GP may charge a consultation fee for the appointment.
If you’re wondering whether it’s really worth getting the flu shot, consider the following:
- in older adults, influenza can lead to pneumonia or bronchitis, which left untreated could require hospitalisation or even be fatal
- some medical conditions can be worsened by the flu
- it can take a month to fully recover from the flu
As the strains of the virus change regularly, a new vaccine is produced to fight the new form of the disease. So it is important to get the modified flu vaccine every year.
According to the Department of Health, August is the best time to get the vaccine as it’s when the flu is most common among the population. If you got the vaccine earlier this year, it may be worth checking with your GP about having it a second time as the effectiveness of the flu shot can decrease over time.
If you want to read more about the free flu vaccine, visit the Government’s Immunise Australia Program website. And, if you have questions, it’s best to speak with your GP.