Healthy living

Flu (influenza) vaccine

  • Flu is a highly contagious disease. Some people are at risk of serious health complications if they get flu.
  • People most at risk of serious complications from flu are eligible for free flu vaccinations (refer to list in ‘who should get the flu vaccine’ below).
  • You should get vaccinated against the flu every year.

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a highly contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. For best protection against flu, people are strongly advised to get the flu vaccine every year. 

What’s new for 2018?

In 2018, a new vaccine is available for people aged 65 years and over. The new vaccine has been designed to increase the immune system’s response among older adults, who are known to have a weaker response to immunisation. The new vaccine includes an influenza A (H3N2) strain which has the greatest impact on people aged over 65 years.

In 2018, a two year trial starts that allows people aged over 65 years to get the flu vaccination at some pharmacies. 

Why get the flu vaccine?
Flu can make existing medical conditions worse, and can cause high fever and pneumonia. It is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose. Good hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of flu and other infections.
Is the flu vaccine safe?

Yes. Any medicine, including the flu vaccine, can have potentially serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction. However the risk of this is extremely small.

AusVaxSafety is a national program to monitor the type and rate of reactions to each year's new influenza vaccine. AusVaxSafety data shows more than 93 per cent of people who received the flu vaccine in 2017 had no reactions. Those who did have a reaction had mainly local reactions at the injection site (2.3%), fever (0.9%) and rash (0.2%). Learn more at NCIRS (external site).

Learn more about possible side effects of immunisation.

The flu vaccine triggers an immune response that can protect you from becoming ill if you are exposed to the influenza virus.

The flu vaccine cannot cause flu as it is made from the killed virus, not living viruses.

All vaccines available in Australia must pass strict safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site).

Learn more about vaccination safety.

Who should get the flu vaccine? Can I get it for free?

Everyone is encouraged to get the flu vaccine. Some groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from flu and are strongly recommended to get immunised.

The following groups are eligible to receive free government funded flu vaccinations:

Note: The vaccine is free however you may be charged a consultation fee. Check costs when making an appointment

When should I get the flu vaccine?
For best protection against flu, people are strongly advised to get the flu vaccine every year. 

The best time to get vaccinated is in late May or in June as vaccine protection may wane around three to four months after getting immunised. Getting vaccinated around late May/June will provide protection throughout peak flu season, which in Western Australia is usually August/September.

Note, after vaccination it can take up to two weeks to develop protection.

It is never too late to get the flu vaccine.

Where can I get the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is available in metropolitan and country WA from immunisation providers including GP clinics, community health clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services.

In 2018, a two year trial starts that allows people aged 65 years and over to get the flu vaccination at some pharmacies.  

For further information, contact your GP or immunisation provider.

More information

Where to get help

  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance
  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Remember

  • Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious disease.
  • Some people are at risk of serious health complications if they get the flu.
  • Children, pregnant women, people over 65 and people with some existing medical conditions are eligible for free flu vaccinations.
  • You should get vaccinated against the flu every year.

Acknowledgements

Public Health


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Where can I get my vaccine?