Victorians urged to get flu vaccination

Victorians are urged to get their flu vaccination heading into the winter months to help protect you and others during winter. Photo by Emma Prior

As the weather gets colder and COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, Victorians are being urged to get their flu jabs to stay well this winter and reduce pressure on the health system.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton led the way getting his influenza (flu) vaccination last week, reminding Victorians that with international borders reopening, more social mixing occurring and other pandemic restrictions easing, ensuring your flu and COVID vaccinations are up to date will help protect you - and others - during winter.

“Victoria has seen low rates of the flu over the last two years due to closed international borders and social distancing measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Professor Sutton said.

“That also means that this winter is a really critical time to be protected with flu vaccinations.

“Vaccination against a highly contagious viral infection like flu is key to protecting yourself and those around you and will ensure we don’t put further pressure on our health system.”

Influenza is a seasonal infection that usually occurs from April to September and can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications regardless of age.

In a year of high influenza activity, it is estimated the flu can contribute to more than 3,300 deaths in Australia.

Flu vaccination is recommended for anyone older than six months and is free for people considered to be at higher risk from influenza including:

•• children from six months to under five years

•• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age

•• pregnant women

•• people aged 65 and over.

•• people with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications.

All Victorians are encouraged to get their seasonal influenza vaccine from their community pharmacy, GP, local council or other immunisation provider as soon as possible.

No interval is required between the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations as they target different viruses.

That means both can be given on the same day if you are due for a COVID-19 vaccination.

“If you do get the flu the advice remains the same,” Professor Sutton said.

“Stay at home if you’re unwell and don’t go to work or school.”

More information on how to avoid influenza and on getting vaccinated is available on the Victorian Government’s Better Health website: betterhealth.vic.gov.au.