FLU VACCINE INFORMATION 2021
Influenza vaccines are now available. We recommend them to everyone, especially those in high risk groups.
This year, you must make sure that Covid vaccines and Flu vaccines are not given within 2 weeks of each other. If you are in a high risk group for Covid vaccination (phase 1b) try to get that done first, and have your flu vaccine afterwards. If you are in phase 2 for Covid, then we suggest having your flu vaccine first.
How to book a Flu vaccine appointment
Book online! This year we are encouraging online bookings for flu vaccines.
Flu vaccines appointments 2021
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age (including Aboriginal and medically at risk)
- all individuals aged 5 years and over with medical risk conditions, namely:
- cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
- chronic respiratory conditions, including suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma
- other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year, including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies
- chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and seizure disorders
- impaired immunity, including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use
- all pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
- all people aged 65 years and over
Flu vaccines are still important
Our doctors recommend that EVERYONE consider a flu vaccine this year, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates of flu transmission last year were very low, but this year is unpredictable because we don’t have such a strict lock-down in place.
|Aged 65 and over||Yes||Govt funded|
|Aged under 5||Yes||Govt funded|
|Aged 5-65 with a chronic condition||Yes||Govt funded|
|Aged 5-65 with no medical condition||Yes||$20|
Key Summary Information For 2021:
- Have your flu vaccine when it becomes available. There is no rush due to low transmission at the moment.
- Some people have suggested a booster dose might be needed if you have the vaccine very early, but we don’t recommend that. There is currently insufficient evidence on whether to recommend a booster dose for those vaccinated early in the season.
- Over 65s receive a different formulation, to promote a stronger immune response in the body. This is only available through your GP. All vaccines, including the over-65 version, are quadrivalent (four strains included).
- Young children should be vaccinated. There is a strong push to ensure as many children as possible receive their vaccine, and the Victorian government funds vaccines for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
- Pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with chronic conditions remain a high priority for vaccination. Vaccinating yourself during pregnancy also protects your baby when it is born.
Over 65s Will Get A Higher Potency Vaccine
From 2020 the higher potency formulations are also quadrivalent. They will be supplied to medical centres by the government for those 65 and over. Make sure you have one of these new vaccines from your doctor, rather than the standard vaccines that might be on offer elsewhere.
Under 65 With A Chronic Medical Condition?
People under 65 with ongoing medical conditions including diabetes should get the quadrivalent (4 strain) vaccine supplied free under the government scheme. Not all chronic medical conditions qualify, so check at the link below or ask your doctor.
Everyone Should Consider A Flu Vaccine This Year
Doctors are recommending vaccination to more and more people. Influenza killed at least 700 people in 2019 in Australia, and although most of those were elderly it does kill otherwise healthy people and causes thousands of hospital admissions. Please encourage family members to consider vaccinating themselves, even if healthy. All children aged 6 months to 5 years and all pregnant women can have free vaccines. Doctors and authorities recommend that all children be vaccinated, even if they don’t get the free government vaccine. The more people around you that are vaccinated, the less transmission of influenza occurs. We can protect the people who are at high risk by vaccinating as many people as possible. The cost ($20 at RPM) is very reasonable for a treatment that genuinely saves lives.
Risks From The Vaccine Are Very Low
There are some risks, as with any medical treatment, but they are rare. It is common to hear people say they had a reaction to the vaccine, but when studied these reactions are usually mild and lasting a day or two (sore around the injection site, muscle aches, low grade fever). As the vaccine does not contain any live virus at all, you cannot get the actual influenza from having the vaccine. Serious allergies or complications are very rare indeed. Egg allergy is not a significant concern any more — the risk of reaction is still very low but if you are allergic to egg you should have your vaccine at a medical facility where you can be monitored for 30 minutes afterwards.
While you are having your flu vaccine, ask your doctor if you also need a pneumococcal vaccination. This is free for over 65s, and is on prescription for others with chronic conditions. A booster dose is usually recommended after 5 years, and there is also a new 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine available now. The pneumococcal vaccines can be given on the same day as the flu vaccine, but not at the same time as a covid vaccination.