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Stay well this winter

Influenza is a common infection. While the flu is mild for some, it can also make you very unwell. If you are aged 65 and over, you are eligible for a free vaccine. Learn how you can protect yourself this flu season.

A woman receiving a flu vaccine from her GP.

What is influenza (the flu)?

Influenza – known as the flu – is a common viral infection that affects people of all ages.

The most common symptoms of the flu are:

  • sudden appearance of a high fever (38°C or more)
  • a dry cough
  • body aches (especially in the head, lower back and legs)
  • feeling very weak and tired (and not wanting to get out of bed).

While the flu can be a mild disease for some, it can also cause serious illness and even lead to hospitalisation in otherwise healthy people.
Annual vaccination is the safest way to protect yourself from the flu. You can also reduce your chances of catching or passing on the flu by wearing a face mask if you need to go out and washing your hands.

Who should receive the flu vaccine?

It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and over get a flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine protects you, but it also can help protect those around you.

Vaccination is important for people aged 65 and over as they are at higher risk of getting sick from the flu. All people aged 65 and over are eligible for a free flu vaccine that is designed to boost the immune response for better protection.

When should I get the flu vaccine?

You should get vaccinated each year from April onwards to be protected before the flu season. The peak flu season is usually June to September each year. It’s never too late to get the vaccine as the flu can spread all year round.

Vaccination appointments can be booked at a range of health services including:

  • local doctors or general practices
  • local council immunisation clinics
  • community health centre
  • Aboriginal health services
  • participating pharmacies.

While the vaccine is free, there may be a consultation fee or service charge to get the vaccine. Speak to your provider for more information.
For more information on the flu vaccine, visit the Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

COVID-19 booster doses

COVID-19 booster doses can be given after a primary vaccination course. They protect you from getting very sick with newer variants of COVID-19.

Immunity wanes over time, so your protection against the virus can decrease. Having a booster recharges your immunity and helps protect you from becoming very sick.

Adults 65 years and over are eligible to receive a booster dose every 6 months. You can have the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster dose on the same day.

For more information, visit the Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Reviewed 30 April 2024