Each year the Department of Health spruiks the Influenza Immunisation message, urging people to get their flu jab. But is it essential? Here’s why we think it is:
For all persons aged six months and older, having an annual flu vaccination will reduce their chances of becoming ill with influenza (unless contraindicated). Having the Flu Vaccine is considered by health experts to be beneficial amidst the COVID-19 global outbreak. While at this stage, there is no vaccine publicly available for COVID-19, we look at why the Flu shot is considered an important weapon in fighting the outbreak.
Will the Flu Vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
COVID-19 is not a form of influenza, so the flu vaccine is not designed to protect against it. However, both COVID-19 and influenza affect the respiratory system and can lead to pneumonia. So if you were to have both viruses at the same time, that has the potential to be a significant attack on the lungs. Alarmingly, COVID-19 has ten times the mortality rate of Flu; so this is a fight you want to go into armed and healthy!
When is the Flu Vaccine available in 2020?
Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season takes place. While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, the best protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. It is recommended to time your vaccination ahead of the peak flu season, this is usually June to September in Australia.
To meet the anticipated demand for seasonal influenza vaccines in 2020, the Australian Government will be securing the largest ever supply of seasonal influenza vaccines. These are provided through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for people most at risk.
What’s new with the 2020 Flu Vaccine
- All people aged 6 months to less than 5 years will now be eligible for free influenza vaccines under the NIP in 2020.
- This year Australia is the first country to offer an adjuvanted Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) – Fluad® Quad.
- New age-specific vaccines will be available under the NIP in 2020 for eligible people. Age indications for some vaccines have changed.
- For more information on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2020, refer to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s Statement. This includes up-to-date clinical advice on the age-specific QIVs available under the NIP, strains included in 2020 vaccines, timing of vaccination, and other relevant topics.
Eligibility for influenza vaccines through the NIP
In 2020, influenza vaccines funded through the NIP are available to the following groups. This is due to their increased risk of complications from influenza.
- All people aged 6 months to less than 5 years (this cohort is newly eligible in 2020)
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
- All people aged 65 years and over
- People aged 6 months and over with medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.
Call us now to book in your flu vaccination.
Source: https://www.health.gov.au/news/clinical-update-2020-seasonal-influenza-vaccines-early-advice-for-vaccination-providers (visited: 16 March 20)