Since COVID-19 in early 2020, flu has become a forgotten word.

But you have noticed it is back in Australia, people are sneezing, coughing and spluttering and it is important to have a flu shot with the cooler weather still to come.

The latest Australian Influenza Incidents Report states there have been 57,816 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza, including 57 influenza-associated deaths notified to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.

“Since seasonal surveillance commenced in April 2023, there have been 518 sentinel hospital admissions with confirmed influenza, of which 37 (7%) were admitted directly to ICU,” states the latest report.

The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over. It not only protects you, but also helps protect those around you.

It is available free under the National Immunisation Program for people most at risk, including:
  • children 6 months to less than 5 years;
  • pregnant women;
  • people aged 65 and over;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and
  • people with certain medical conditions.

Extensive research has shown that flu vaccines are safe and effective.

It takes two weeks from the time of your flu vaccination for you to develop immunity, and the flu vaccine provides approximately 3–4 months of protection following vaccination. How well the vaccine prevents illness varies depending on the age and immune response of the person getting vaccinated as well as how similar the virus strain in the vaccine.