Protect your child from hospitalisation as a result of the flu. Free for all children under five years

11 May 2020

In Australia, severe influenza or ‘the flu’ is the leading cause of hospitalisation for children under five and can sometimes be fatal. Influenza is a highly contagious disease and spreads easily through families, workplaces, childcare centres and schools.  The flu is not the same as a common cold and people with the flu may have symptoms that vary from mild to severe requiring hospitalisation.

Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. The flu vaccines protect you from getting infected and prevent serious disease. The flu strains constantly change so you need a new vaccine every year to make sure you stay protected.

The flu vaccine can be given from 6 months and above and needs to be given each year to ensure protection against the latest strains. Children aged six months to nine years receiving the flu vaccine for the first time require two doses of an age-appropriate vaccine one month apart to maximise the immune response to the vaccine strains. Children who have previously received one or more doses of the flu vaccine in a previous year only require one dose for all seasons thereafter. This short video from NSW Health discusses the influenza vaccine for children aged under five years.

In 2020 the flu vaccine is provided for free to children aged six months to under five years. Children aged over five years who have high risk medical conditions are also eligible for vaccination under the National Immunisation Program.

A recent article in the Daily Telegraph, April 26, 2020 reported one in three parents were unaware the flu vaccine is recommended for kids.  

Will the flu vaccine protect against COVID-19?

No, but it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine this year. Flu vaccination reduces your chances of getting influenza, which means it also reduces the risk of you having two potentially serious infections, influenza and COVID-19, at the same time.

People are encouraged to discuss with their GP or other immunisation providers how to organise to get their influenza vaccination with the social distancing requirements and other measures in place to minimise potential exposure to coronavirus.

Where can my child receive a free influenza vaccine?

It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. If your child is eligible for a free influenza vaccine, this can be accessed for free from your local doctor. Although the vaccine is free, your doctor may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

Pharmacies in NSW can also offer flu vaccines to children aged 10 or over who do not qualify for a free government funded vaccine. This gives families more options to access the flu vaccine and protect families.

I have more questions about the influenza vaccine for my children

New influenza vaccination resources are now available from Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI). The new SKAI resources are specifically for parents to support you with your influenza vaccination information needs and help guide you with your decisions to vaccinate. The resources are now available on the SKAI for Parents website.

The Australian Government Department of Health website also has useful information for parents.

What else can I do?

In addition to ensuring you and your family receive their flu vaccines this year, there is more you can do to help manage flu outbreaks in the community and ensure your children remain up to date with all of their vaccinations.

FluTracking is an online community-based health surveillance system to detect influenza epidemics. By taking part, you’ll not only be contributing to scientific research, you will be helping to track influenza in your local community and nation-wide. Click here for more information.

The simple online survey takes less than 10 seconds each week. You will receive an email once a week with a link to your quick survey consisting of yes/no questions.

Save the Date to Vaccinate – Parents are encourage to download the Save the Date to Vaccinate app to help you track when your child’s immunisations are due and avoid delays with vaccinating. This app is available to download from both the Apple AppStore as well as Google Play.