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Flu Shot 2021 / Flu Vaccine 2021
Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to reduce the risk of getting the flu and reducing the spread of influenza within the community. It is important to get your flu vaccine in April and May, before the start of the June to September flu season. By getting your flu vaccination you’re not just protecting yourself, you’re also protecting vulnerable people who are too sick, too young such as babies less than six months old and those who have low immunity.
What is the flu?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness of the respiratory tract caused by influenza viruses which cause severe illness and life-threatening complications. Influenza is spread by contact with respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The cold and the flu are both caused by viruses, and some of the symptoms are similar. However, the symptoms of flu are more severe and last longer than those of a cold. Flu is a serious disease that can lead to:

  • Bronchitis
  • Croup
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections
  • Heart and other organ damage
  • Brain inflammation and brain damage
  • Death.
What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms usually start about 1 to 3 days after catching the flu and can last for a week or more.  While some people can be mildly affected, others can become seriously ill.

The most common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Runny nose or sneezing
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children).

The flu is more serious illness than the common cold as it can cause serious complications, particularly in children, the elderly and those with underlying medication conditions.

How to relieve flu symptoms?
In most cases, mild flu symptoms can be treated yourself. In most cases, people will get better by themselves within 7 to 10 days and without any treatment.

Here are some things you can do to relieve flu symptoms include:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking plenty of water and other non-alcoholic fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Keeping warm
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke if possible
  • Inhaling steam from a hot bath or shower in a closed room to help relieve a blocked nose – remember to always directly supervise children near hot water
  • There are also several medicines available to ease cold and flu symptoms, such as pain and fever.

IMPORTANT: If you have any flu-like symptoms it is important to get tested for COVID-19 immediately, even if your symptoms are mild.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the flu vaccine?
The flu (influenza) vaccine contains inactive particles that stimulate the body’s natural immune response to build resistance to infection. Each year, the strains within the flu vaccine are updated on the recommendation of the World Health Organisation based on global information.
How does the flu vaccine help?
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza. By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread. Annual immunisation is recommended as the influenza virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine changes accordingly. As well as vaccination, it is important to continue practicing good hand hygiene, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when you are unwell to minimise the spread of the flu.
Why should I get the flu vaccine?
Getting the flu vaccine is an effective way to protect yourself and the people around you against influenza. People can fall seriously ill from influenza; some can be hospitalised and it can even be fatal. The Australian Government recommends that everyone aged over 6 months to receive the flu shot every year. It is also important to get vaccinated against influenza to protect the people who cannot be vaccinated. For example, babies younger than 6 months and adults with low immunity.
When should I get my flu vaccine?
Influenza circulates all year around. Therefore, it is never too late to have the vaccine. However, it is recommended to receive annual influenza vaccination before the influenza season starts. Influenza circulation peaks between June and September in most parts of Australia. It is important to get your flu shot in April or May The flu vaccine is expected to protect you for the whole season, but keep it in mind that it is most effective during the first 3-4 months after vaccination.
I’ve had the flu shot but then got the flu — why bother having it?
Flu vaccination is not effective in absolutely every case. However, it still provides protection against influenza. Flu vaccine prevents illness in 5-6 out of 10 healthy adults under the age of 65. Some people may still catch the influenza virus after the flu shot, but the severity of the symptoms is reduced. It is still important to have the shot.
Is there a delay between when I receive the flu vaccine, and when it starts to work?
Immunity post-vaccination does not occur immediately. There is a lag period of two to three weeks as the body creates antibodies to protect you against the flu.

Are there any side effects?

The influenza vaccine can cause side effects and the most common side effects may include: 

  • Localised pain, redness. itching and swelling at the injection site
  • Drowsiness or tiredness 
  • Muscle aches
  • Low-grade fever

These symptoms usually resolve within two days. We advise our patients to remain at the clinic or nearby, for 15 minutes after receiving your vaccination so that our healthcare team can monitor any reactions, and answer any queries or concerns you may have.

Can I get a flu vaccine every 6 months?

There are some people who are recommended to receive 2 doses of flu vaccine in the same flu season. These people include:

  1. Children aged 6 months to <9 years for the first time. 
  2. People who recently had stem cell transplant or organ transplant
  3. Pregnant women in their latter pregnancy may have next season’s flu vaccine whenever it becomes available, even if they have had the vaccine from the previous season.
  4. People who are going to the northern hemisphere winter

The minimal interval between 2 flu vaccines is 4 weeks 

Will the flu vaccine help prevent me from the coronavirus?
Australians are being urged to get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, however it will reduce the risk of the double up of the two serious virus-seasonal influenza and Covid-19. Influenza kills hundreds of people every year and causes thousands of hospitalisations. It is especially important to protect yourself from influenza in this pandemic.
What vaccine is recommended to over 65 years old patients if the high dose flu vaccine is not available?
It is recommended that people aged 65 and over should receive the enhanced quadrivalent vaccine (Fluad® Quad) over other standard quadrivalent vaccines. The enhanced quadrivalent vaccine is specially formulated to create a greater immune response amongst the elderly. However, sometimes Fluad® Quad may not be available due to reasons. In this case people aged 65 years and over can safely receive other standard quadrivalent influenza vaccines.
What if my preferred flu vaccine is not available?

Instead of waiting on a specific vaccine product, it is recommended to use any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine, which including inactivated influenza vaccine, high-dose influenza vaccine, adjuvanted influenza vaccine, or recombinant flu vaccine.

If the coronavirus disease is spreading in my local community, should I still go out to get a flu vaccine?

Yes, and you should not delay getting a flu vaccine. Contact your doctor, local pharmacy and health department for more information and instruction in terms of how to access the flu vaccine safely. Any vaccination location following NSW Health Covid Safety Rules should be a safe place for you to receive a flu vaccine.

What if my preferred flu vaccine is not available?

Instead of waiting on a specific vaccine product, it is recommended to use any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine, which including inactivated influenza vaccine, high-dose influenza vaccine, adjuvanted influenza vaccine, or recombinant flu vaccine.

If the coronavirus disease is spreading in my local community, should I still go out to get a flu vaccine?

Yes, and you should not delay getting a flu vaccine. Contact your doctor, local pharmacy and health department for more information and instruction in terms of how to access the flu vaccine safely. Any vaccination location following NSW Health Covid Safety Rules should be a safe place for you to receive a flu vaccine.

Can I get a coronavirus vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time?
No. You should not get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time. COVID-19 vaccines should be given alone with at least 14 days either before or after you get any other vaccines, including a flu vaccine. This is because there is currently limited information on the safety and effectiveness of getting other vaccines at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.

As more information becomes available, this recommendation may change. Your healthcare provider can help you decide the best vaccination schedule for you and your family.

Am I eligible to receive a government funded vaccine?

There are groups of people who can receive the government subsidised flu vaccines include:

  • 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 Torres Strait islander people and medically at risk people)
  • 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
  • children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy
  • pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over (a vaccine that is specifically designed to produce a higher immune response is available for this group).