Those considered to be at high risk of complications from influenza are offered an annual flu immunisation through the National Immunisation Program as the most important way to reduce the number of flu infections and deaths. The vaccination is also advised for those who work or live with people in high risk groups, people providing essential services, those who work with children and healthcare workers.

Those considered to be at high risk include:

  • pregnant women,
  • those over 65 year old
  • children between 6 months of age and 5 years of age
  • people with medical conditions such as chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, impaired immunity, diabetes, and kidney disease, who are at risk of complications from the flu, 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 15 years of age.

Those considered to be in higher risk groups, who are recommended to have the vaccination, but not necessarily provided  free include:

  • people who are obese
  • those addicted to alcohol
  • nursing home residents
  • staff of long-term care facilities or nursing homes
  • carers of homeless people
  • people involved in commercial poultry and pig industry
  • travellers

Influenza is common, highly contagious and not the same as the common cold. The flu virus is more incapacitating and lasts much longer than a cold, with more marked fatigue and weakness, headaches, general aches and pains.  There may also be nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea particularly for children.

The vaccine does not contain live virus and cannot give the flu. Each year, a new vaccine is developed as the virus has the ability to change its surface structure. The seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against four strains of influenza. Some people who have had the vaccine may contract influenza as the vaccine does not protect against all  circulating strains in the community.

The recommendations for those who should not get a flu vaccine include

  • children younger than 6 months of age
  • people with severe life-threatening allergies to flu-vaccine or ingredients 
  • those who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • if you are currently unwell



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