- Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over (unless medically contraindicated) to reduce their chance of becoming ill with influenza.
- All children aged 6 months to less than 5 years are newly eligible for free influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program.
- For those aged 65 years and over, a new quadrivalent (QIV) adjuvanted vaccine is available in 2023 which should be given in preference to other available vaccine.
- Influenza vaccines and the COVID 19 Vaccine may be given at the same time.
Eligibility for free influenza vaccines
People most at risk of severe influenza and its complications are eligible for free influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program. Eligible groups include:
- Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
- People aged 65 years and over
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- People aged 6 months and over with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and complications. Medical conditions include:
- Cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease;
- Chronic respiratory conditions, including severe asthma (defined as requiring frequent medical consultations or the use of multiple medications), cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic emphysema;
- Chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including hereditary and degenerative central nervous system diseases (including multiple sclerosis), seizure disorders, spinal cord injuries, and neuromuscular disorders;
- Immunocompromising conditions, due to diseases or treatment (e.g. malignancy, transplantation, chronic steroid use), asplenia or splenic dysfunction, and HIV infection;
- Diabetes and other metabolic disorders;
- Renal disease, especially for chronic kidney disease;
- Haematological disorders, including haemoglobinopathies; and
- Children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy who are at increased risk of Reye syndrome following influenza infection.
Those not eligible for a government funded flu vaccine can receive a private flu vaccine at Your Family Doctors for $20
Optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. Timing of vaccination should aim to achieve the highest level of protection during peak influenza season (usually from June to September in most parts of Australia).
2023 influenza vaccine strains
The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) recommendation for the composition of influenza vaccines for Australia in 2023 introduces one new strain to the NIP vaccines when compared to the composition of the vaccines for Australia in 2022: a new A (H1N1) like virus strain:
- an A/Sydney/5/2021 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus – new strain for 2023.
- an A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like virus;
- a B/Austria/1359417/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus; and
- a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.
For patients 65yrs and over – QIV Fluad Quad (Seqirus) contains an adjuvant and is recommended for those 65yrs and over. The adjuvant boosts the immune system’s response to the vaccine and provides better protection for people aged 65 years and over.
Influenza vaccine contraindications
The only contraindications to influenza vaccines are:
- Anaphylaxis following a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
- Anaphylaxis following any vaccine component (excluding eggs)
Note on egg allergies
Egg allergy is not a contraindication to influenza vaccines. If there is significant parental or health professional concern, the vaccine may be administered in a primary care setting with a longer waiting period of 30 minutes.
Note on latex allergies
All influenza vaccines available under the NIP in 2023 are latex free. People with a latex allergy can safely be vaccinated with influenza vaccines that are available under the NIP.
Possible side effects of the flu vaccine
The influenza vaccine can cause a range of side effects. Common side effects of flu vaccine include:
- drowsiness or tiredness
- muscle aches
- localized pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- occasionally, an injection-site lump (nodule) that may last many weeks but needs no treatment, will resolve
- low grade temperature
Managing fever after Immunisation
Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary (occurring in the first two days after vaccination). Specific treatment is not usually required. There are a number of treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:
- drinking extra fluids and not overdressing if there is a fever
- although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if fever is present, paracetamol can be given – check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist, (especially when giving paracetamol to children)
Booking a flu vaccine Appointment
The 2023 Influenza’s vaccines are expected to arrive early April. When they arrive flu vaccine appointments will be available for patients of our practice online via HotDoc under ‘Flu clinic’ by following the link Book Here
- 2023 National Immunisation Program (NIP) influenza vaccines 2023 Influenza Vaccination
- The Australian Immunisation Handbook (available at immunisationhandbook.gov.au)
- The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) clinical statement on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2023 ATAGI advice
- NCIRS factsheets – factsheet
- COVID-19 Information – www.health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines
- NSW State health department contact numbers: 1300 066 055
The Team @ Your Family Doctors