Each year a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine is developed to protect against the most common strains of flu for that year. The flu can be very serious and lead to complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), neurologic conditions and other bacterial infections.
The flu vaccine is recommended for any person aged six months and over and those with compromised immune systems who wish to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill.
Children six months of age through to less than nine years of age receiving the flu vaccine for the first time will need to have two doses one month apart, to ensure that an adequate immune response is produced. This will ensure the child is protected and help prevent infection. The flu vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh in children under 12 months of age, and into the top of the arm in others over 12 months of age. Like any immunisation, the flu vaccine can have some minor and short term side effects.
Common side effects may include:
- Pain, redness and swelling at the site of the immunisation
- Drowsiness, tiredness or irritability
- Muscle aches
- Low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius
Some side effects may appear as ‘flu like symptoms’, however all flu vaccines currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause a flu infection.
Quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIV) are funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in 2017 for the following groups:
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years and older
- All persons aged 65 years and older
- All persons aged 6 months or older who have a certain medical condition which increases the risk of influenza disease complications: for example, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
For more information on the flu vaccine, book an appointment with a GP at your local Pro Health Care centre.
Pro Medical SA