As we brace for this year’s cold and flu season, the annual flu vaccine can help protect you from influenza and its complications. And this time it’s even more important.
In recent times, safety measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as physical distancing and masks, also helped reduce the spread of influenza. This has led to lower levels of flu vaccinations, which in turn may have resulted in lower levels of community immunity1.
And with many COVID-19 restrictions relaxed and international borders reopened, our communities may be more vulnerable to the resurgence of influenza this winter2.
Is it safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
ATAGI says it’s safe for the flu vaccine to be administered on the same day as the COVID-19 vaccine. So, if you’re eligible for your COVID-19 booster shot, this may be a good reminder to get your flu vaccine as well2.
Also, the Department of Health recommends the 2022 flu vaccine for all people aged 6 months and older2.
Can you catch the flu from the vaccine?
This is one of the biggest myths about the vaccine. There is no live virus in the shot, so it can’t cause you to get the flu. A small percentage of people may experience side effects such as fever and headache that mimic flu symptoms, but these effects are usually mild and should resolve themselves within a few days. Generally, any reactions will occur within a few hours of vaccination and last no longer than 24 to 48 hours3.
While protection is generally expected to last throughout the year, the highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months after vaccination1.
Fast flu facts4
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious disease which usually spreads through sneezing, coughing, and touching contaminated surfaces.
Annual vaccination is the most important measure to protect yourself from changing flu strains and serious flu complications. Side effects of the flu vaccine are mild such as aches, pains, feeling tired and mild fevers.
Ideally, you should get your vaccination before the start of the flu season (typically peak season in Australia is June – September).
Am I eligible for a free flu vaccine?
Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), some people from special risk groups are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination from their GP. This includes:
- if you have a medical condition that means you have a higher risk of getting serious disease
- if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres-Strait Islander
- if you are pregnant
- people aged 65+
- children aged 6 months to 5 years.
People from these special risk groups should speak with their GP before booking a flu vaccination. It’s recommended children under 10 get their flu vaccination from their GP. Consultation fees may apply.