Safeguarding against influenza is always recommended as statistics show an average of 1,500 to 3,000 people die from influenza in Australia each year. This is much higher than those dying from COVID-19 in the country. If you get the flu, your immune system is compromised, making you much more susceptible to other infections such as COVID-19. That is why having a flu shot is more important than ever this year.

With this in mind, we answer some of the widely asked questions about the Flu Vaccine:

1. When should I get vaccinated?
The peak period of influenza circulation is usually from June to September in most parts of Australia. Researches claim that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop within the body and once developed they provide sufficient protection for around 3-4 months. Hence to effectively protect against the flu, it is advisable to get vaccinated mid-April to mid-May. So, if you haven’t had your vaccination yet, its best to get it soon.
2. Does the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
While the vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, it will reduce your risk of influenza and a compromised immune system. During this pandemic, you want to remain as fit and healthy as possible, so that if you do catch COVID-19, your symptoms may be milder, and you have the greatest chance of full recovery.
3. Can I still get the flu shot if I have been tested positive for COVID-19?

No. If your COVID-19 result is positive, follow the advice of your doctor and isolate yourself at home or in a hospital until you are well. You can get the flu vaccination after you have recovered and have two negative results against COVID-19 in a row.

4. Can I get the flu shot whilst sick?

No. The flu vaccine triggers an immune response in your body, prompting your immune system to develop antibodies to fight off the influenza virus. While doctors recommend not getting the flu shot if you are very sick or if you have a fever, they agree it is probably fine to have it if you have the common cold.

5. Can I get the flu shot whilst self-isolating or practicing social distancing?

Yes, if you are practicing social distancing, you can have your flu vaccination.
No, if you are self-isolating because you have been exposed to a known case of COVID-19 and/or are currently unwell, you can only get vaccinated once you have completely recovered.

6. What is the difference between influenza and COVID-19?
While the early symptoms of the flu and COVI-19 can be similar, fever, runny nose, and cough, and they are transmitted in the same way, there are some key differences.

Influenza typically has a shorter incubation period (the time from infection to when symptoms appear) than COVID-19, which means influenza can spread faster. The risk of severe illness seems to be higher for COVID-19 than influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While the data so far shows that 4 in 5 cases of COVID-19 are mild (or even have no symptoms), the number of people with ‘severe or critical’ infection (needing intensive care) could be higher than that of influenza.

7. Who is eligible for a free vaccine?

The Government provides free flu vaccinations to those in our society who are most at risk of complications from the flu. These include:
• pregnant women (at any stage of their pregnancy)
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older
• people aged 65 years and older
• people aged 6 months and older with certain health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and asthma)
• all children aged between 6 months and 5 years

8. Are there any side effects to the flu vaccine?
Flu shots are generally safe for most people. You may experience flu-like symptoms within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine such as:
• Mild fever
• Swelling, redness or tenderness near the area around the injection site
• Chills or headache

These may occur as your body responds to the vaccine and builds antibodies to fight the illness. Symptoms are typically mild and go away within a day or two. If your symptoms are more severe seek medical advice