FLU Vaccinations are FREE in June

Cold is not the only thing to brace for this winter! 


Flu season in Australia is in the months from April to September. According to the Australian Influenza Surveillance Report,[1] there have been 11,000 cases already this flu season, with 153 hospitalisations (78 hospitalisations in the fortnight ending 8 May 2022). Perhaps if we also let you know that less than 300 cases were reported at the same time in 2021, you too may think that the numbers are stacking up for a doozy of a flu-zee season this year! 

So, what exactly is flu and how does this affect me? The Department of Health states:

Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious disease, usually prevented by vaccination and treated by managing symptoms.[2]

Who should get a flu vaccination?

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for anyone over six months of age (unless otherwise advised by your medical practitioner). It is encouraged for patients wanting to reduce their own or their children’s likelihood of becoming seriously ill with influenza or to help stop the spread to those more vulnerable. And for the month of June 2022, the government has just announced it will be given out FREE

Many people do not realise the severity of the flu in even healthy people, including healthy children. In fact, the hospitalisation rate of children under five is 105 per 100,000 children, with 10% of hospital attendees being placed in intensive care.[3] So it is important to know children under five are considered the most vulnerable groups for influenza. Those most susceptible are:

  • Children 6 months -5 years[4]; (please see more information for this category in the FURTHER READING section below).
  • Over 65’s
  • Patients living with Chronic Medical Conditions, are Immunosuppressed and / or are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

How flu spreads

The influenza virus can be spread when infected people cough and sneeze, and others contact the expelled particles. It is a viral infection that inhibits the respiratory system and can result in moderate to severe, life-threatening complications. While it can be pernicious, even in healthy people, there are some groups more at risk of experiencing serious outcomes, such as young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals of those living with a chronic medical condition.[5]

Symptoms

If you’re unsure whether the symptoms you experience are bolder than the common cold, flu symptoms are:[6]

  • Fever 38˚C or above
  • Chills – struggling to feel warm
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache and / or body aches
  • Lacking in energy / feeling weak
  • A loss of appetite

How is the flu treated?

Vaccination is the best protection. As stated by the Department of Health, the flu is usually prevented by vaccination. Beyond that, treatments are most often in the management of symptoms caused by the flu until the body can successfully fight the virus. Protection, however, is not only for you. Getting a flu vaccination will help reduce the spread to those around you, including those who may be too young or sick to be vaccinated.

What types of influenza vaccinations are available in Australia in 2022?

Influenza vaccines change as new and different strains of the virus appear. Therefore, it’s important to understand that if you had a flu shot last year, it might not have been for the same strains of the virus circling this flu season. The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) is responsible for reviewing the influenza strains prevalent in the Southern Hemisphere, its response to previous years’ vaccines and then in accordance with the World Health Organisations recommendation, and the AIVC recommends the viral strains to be used for the influenza vaccines in our Australian flu season.[7]

There are eight flu vaccines registered with the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) available for use in 2022, here in Oz:

Sponsor Tradename Age group
Sanofi-Aventis Vaxigrip Tetra 6 months and over*
Fluquadri 6 months and over*
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent 60 years and over
GlaxoSmithKline Fluarix Tetra 6 months and over*
Seqirus Fluad Quad 65 years and over
Afluria Quad 5 years and over
Flucelvax Quad 2 years and over
Viatris Influvac Tetra 6 months and over*

Table source: https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/2022-seasonal-influenza-vaccines 

Egg-based versus Cell-based

There are two styles of vaccine production now available. Egg-based, as the name suggests, uses hens’ eggs to grow the flu virus. Cell-based does not require eggs as the viruses are grown in the cells of animals. While cell-based production theoretically has benefits, the safety and efficacy profile are similar to that of its counterpart.[8]

How do I find a flu shot near me?

The flu vaccine is available free for over 65’s, children 6-months to five years of age, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over six months of age and those with certain medical conditions.[9] For all other patients wanting the flu shot, the flu vaccine is being offered free for the month of June (2022) then after that price may vary depending on the provider and brand of vaccine, so it’s best to check upon booking.

If you would like to be vaccinated against influenza, book a flu shot near you! Find your local Qualitas Health practice here

A person with flu symptoms

Further Reading:

Immunisation of young children against influenza – evidence review https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/young-children-flu-immun-evidence.aspx

Why does my child need a flu shot? https://talkingaboutimmunisation.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-08/SKAI_2.00_Flu%20shot_July%202020_Final.pdf

Sources:


  1. Australian Influenza Surveillance Report, No.3, 2022. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm/$File/flu-03-2022.pdf
  2. Flu (Influenza). Australian Government Department of Health. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/flu-influenza
  3. https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/young-children-flu-immun-evidence.aspx
  4. SKAI Info sheet https://talkingaboutimmunisation.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-08/SKAI_2.00_Flu%20shot_July%202020_Final.pdf
  5. Influenza (flu). Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/flu-influenza#what-is-influenza-flu
  6. Flu (Influenza). Australian Government Department of Health. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/flu-influenza
  7. 2022 Seasonal Influenza Vaccines: Information for consumers and health professionals. https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/2022-seasonal-influenza-vaccines
  8. National Centre for Immunisations Research and Surveillance. https://www.ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-03/Influenza%20vaccines-FAQs_update_March%202022_Final.pdf
  9. Seasonal Influenza Vaccine. NSW Health. https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/flu.aspx