Why get immunised against the flu?

The flu (also called influenza) is a very contagious infection of the airways. It is especially serious for babies, people over 65 years old and pregnant women.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by the flu.

By getting vaccinated against the flu, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

Who should get immunised against the flu?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against the flu can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

You should get a flu vaccine every year. This is because the most common strains of the virus that cause the flu change every year. The vaccine also changes every year to match these strains.

Flu immunisation is recommended every year for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged between 6 months and 5 years, and 15 years and older, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • people aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease, for free under the NIP
  • pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, for free under the NIP
  • people aged 65 years or over, for free under the NIP
  • all children over 6 months and all adults
  • women who are planning a pregnancy
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 to 15 years
  • people who live or work in aged care homes or long-term facilities
  • homeless people, and the people who care for them
  • healthcare workers
  • people who live or work in the same household as someone who is at high risk of serious disease from the flu
  • people who work in early childhood education and care
  • people who work in the chicken or pig industries, if there is an outbreak of bird flu or swine flu
  • people who are travelling overseas.

Where can you get a flu immunisation?

Flu immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against the flu?

Flu vaccines can protect against up to 4 strains of the flu virus. All the flu vaccines available in Australia are given as a needle. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age.

Flu vaccines for children aged at least six months to under three years include:

Flu vaccines for children aged at least three years and adults include:

Flu vaccines for adults aged at least 18 years include:

Flu vaccines for adults aged 65 years and over include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your flu immunisation.

Do I need to pay for flu immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of flu immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of the flu vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of flu vaccines include:

  • pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
  • fever, tiredness, body aches.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against flu? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information


If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018