Free flu vaccination for children aged six months to under five years

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Free flu vaccination for children aged six months to less than five years

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In 2019 the Tasmanian Government is again providing free flu vaccine for all children in Tasmania aged six months to less than five years.

Why are children being offered flu vaccine?

Children less than five years of age, including those who do not have medical conditions, are more likely to get severe flu infections than older children and adults. The highest rates of hospitalisations due to flu are seen in the elderly and children less than five years of age.

Where can my child get the free vaccine?

Every child aged between six months and less than five years is eligible for the free vaccine. It is available from your GP or some local council immunisation sessions.

Although the flu vaccine is free you may need to pay a GP consultation fee.

Is flu vaccine for children a new recommendation?

No. Flu vaccine has been recommended for all Australian children from six months to less than five years since 2013. This is the second year it has been funded in Tasmania. Other states are offering a similar program.

Is the flu vaccine safe for children?

Yes. All vaccines, including flu vaccine are registered and monitored nationally by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The flu vaccine is safely given to tens of thousands of Australian children each year.

Are there side effects?

Some children have mild side effects after receiving the flu vaccine such as soreness or redness at the injection site, mild fever or muscle aches.

If mild reactions do occur, they generally go away within a few days.

Talk to your immunisation provider about what to expect and how you can manage side effects if they do occur.

Seek medical attention if your child has a serious reaction to the flu vaccine. Please also report this event to the Public Health Hotline – Tasmania on 1800 671 738.

Can the flu vaccine be given with other childhood vaccines?

Yes. However, there is a slightly higher risk of fever and febrile convulsions when the flu vaccine is given with Prevenar 13 (a pneumococcal vaccine).

Please discuss with your GP if you have questions.

Can the flu vaccine give children the flu?

No. It is not possible for the flu vaccine to give you the flu. There is no live virus in the vaccines used in Australia.

How many doses does my child need?

All children under nine years of age need two doses of vaccine at least four weeks apart in the first year they have a flu vaccine.

Only one dose is needed every year after that.

When should my child have the flu vaccine?

Flu is most common from June until September. Being immunised from mid-April gives the best protection for the peak flu period.

Children who need two doses should be immunised when the vaccine becomes available (mid to late April) so they can receive both doses before the flu season begins.

My child is allergic to eggs, can they still have the flu vaccine?

Most types of flu vaccine contain a very small amount of egg protein.

If your child has a mild egg allergy, they can have the flu vaccine without any additional precautions.

If they have a severe egg allergy, they should be immunised by a healthcare provider experienced in recognising and managing severe allergic conditions.

Talk to your doctor about your child having the flu vaccine if they have a severe egg allergy.

How else can I help protect my children against flu?

The best way to prevent flu is to have the flu vaccine.

You need to have the flu vaccine each year because the flu virus is constantly changing.

Good habits can also reduce the chance of getting flu or passing it to others. These include:

  • regular hand washing with soap and water
  • not sharing personal items such as cups
  • cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

If your child is five years and older and not eligible for a free vaccine talk to your GP about purchasing the vaccine.

I was immunised while pregnant; does my child still need the flu vaccine?

Flu immunisation during pregnancy is an important way to help protect yourself, and your child in the first few months of their life. Unfortunately, the protection for your baby does not last beyond six months of age and it is recommended that children from this age are immunised for flu.

For more information

Adverse event reporting

To report a serious adverse event following the flu immunisation in a child aged between six months and less than five years, please call the Public Health Hotline – Tasmania on 1800 671 738.

March  2019