Parents can help protect children from seasonal influenza, a serious and potentially deadly condition, by getting their child a flu shot.
All children aged from six months to less than five years are eligible for a free flu vaccine through the Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Young children are among the people most vulnerable to complications from influenza. Influenza is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children under five and can be fatal, even in previously healthy children.
There have been more than 1,800 cases of flu in children under five years of age this year, and sadly one death. There have been over 20,000 cases of influenza overall, and 36 deaths in 2020, down from approximately 110,000 cases and 369 deaths at this time in 2019.
In a statement, the Coalition Government said vaccination was the most effective and safe way to protect young children against influenza and its complications. The statement said that vaccinating against the flu saves and protects lives and is particularly important this year due to COVID-19.
“Whilst flu vaccination does not prevent against COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting our general health.”
The government has also launched an online campaign to increase the uptake of the influenza vaccination. The campaign provides evidence-based information for parents, to increase confidence in and acceptance of seasonal influenza vaccination.
The federal government secured 18 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines this year, to ensure that all Australians can receive this protection. This is more than double the number of vaccines provided under the NIP in 2017, at 8.3 million.
The 2020 influenza vaccines are available now to eligible people under the NIP from a range of vaccination providers including GPs, community health clinics and eligible pharmacies in some states.
As well as children under five and over six months, free flu vaccine is available through the NIP for:
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older
- People aged 65 years and older, and
- People aged six months and older with certain medical risk factors.
For more information about flu vaccination, head to health.gov.au/news/protect-your-child-by-vaccinating-against-flu.