Flu update

2022 free government and private flu vaccines ($25) are available. This year, a spike in influenza is expected due to international travel opening up and reduced social distancing.
Bookings are available online on weekdays at Lyneham and Denman and at weekends at Crace.

What is in the 2022 vaccine?
Vaccines are quadrivalent, covering two influenzae A and two influenzae B strains expected to be circulating in 2022:
 A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus.
 A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like virus.
 B/Austria/1359417/2021-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus.
 B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.

Government-funded flu vaccines are available to the following groups:
All people 65 years or older (25% stronger dose, covers all four strains).
Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy.
Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over.
People with chronic medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza, such as:
Heart disease (Cyanotic congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, 
lung disease (moderate to severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic emphysema), 
Chronic renal failure, 
Chronic neurological conditions (hereditary and degenerative CNS diseases, seizure disorders, spinal cord injuries, neuromuscular disorders), 
immune compromising conditions (Immunocompromised due to disease or treatment, asplenia or splenic dysfunction, HIV infection, or 
Aged 5 to 10 years and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

While protection is generally expected to last throughout the year, the highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months after vaccination. A frequent request is to have a second flu vaccine 3-4 months following the first. While this is not officially recommended, we will provide this second vaccine. However, you can only receive one government-funded vaccine; the second will need to be a privately paid vaccine.

Flu vaccination for pregnant women
The flu vaccine is recommended for every pregnancy and is safe at any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe disease and complications from the flu. Immunising against flu during pregnancy also protects a newborn baby for the first six months after birth. We also recommend that fathers of young children have a flu vaccine.
For women who receive the 2022 influenza vaccine before becoming pregnant, revaccination is recommended during pregnancy to maximise the protection of the mother and the baby in the first six months of life.
The influenza vaccine can safely be given simultaneously as whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine and/or the COVID-19 vaccine.

Flu vaccination for children.
We recommend that all children, especially young children, have a flu vaccination. A small number of children become seriously ill from the flu and will need to be admitted to hospital. Of these, around 10% require admission to ICU. Of these children who become very unwell and require hospital admission, around half will have had no pre-existing chronic medical conditions.
Babies can receive the flu vaccine from the age of six months. Children under five years are eligible for the free government flu vaccine. Children aged up to and including eight years require two doses, at least four weeks apart, in the first year they receive the vaccine.

Who should not have the flu vaccine?
You should not have the flu vaccine if you have a history of allergic reactions to the vaccine (unless it was due to an egg allergy, see below).
Influenza vaccination is generally not recommended for people with a history of Guillain-Barr syndrome (GBS) whose first episode occurred within 6 weeks of receiving an influenza vaccine.
People with a history of GBS whose first episode was not after influenza vaccination have an extremely low risk of recurrence of GBS after vaccination. Influenza vaccination is recommended for these people.

Flu vaccine and egg allergy.
Flu vaccine can be given safely to those with egg anaphylaxis. The influenza vaccines contain less than 1ug (less than one-millionth of a gram) of ovalbumin (egg) per dose.
In the past, most vaccine-associated anaphylaxis cases were most likely due to the older formulations of the flu vaccine, which contained more egg protein.
If you remain concerned, you can speak to your GP about receiving the new non-egg-based private flu vaccine (we cannot name this vaccine due to TGA rules). We do not routinely stock this flu vaccine. It is more expensive at $40-45 per dose.