The Immunisation Coalition (IC) recommends influenza vaccination as the safest way to protect the public against influenza. Influenza vaccine is funded as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for at risk groups, including people 65 and over, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions.
The IC concurs with the NH&MRC recommendations that anyone over 6 months of age should receive an annual influenza vaccination to protect themselves, as even healthy people are at risk from influenza. It will also increase herd immunity within the community.
The IC recommends people consult with their healthcare professional for guidance on eligibility for the free vaccine, particularly now that children under 5 can get it free under state health programs. The NIP vaccine usually becomes available in April/May each year, so it recommended that at-risk people book an appointment to have their vaccination when it’s available. Anyone else who wants to protect themselves against influenza should consult their GP or pharmacist.
It is highly recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated against influenza, because it is safe and will protect both the mother and infant.
The summer influenza outbreaks that are occurring in different parts of the country are indicative of the unpredictable nature of influenza. Prior to the availability of this year’s influenza vaccine, it is important to exercise good infection control (hand washing, avoiding social situations) and to see your GP as soon as you have symptoms because treatment is available if diagnosed early.