World-first flu jab free for seniors

A WORLD-first free seasonal flu vaccine will be available for up to four million seniors aged over 65 years from today as the Federal Government urges all Australians to protect themselves.

While the new four-strain Fluad Quad shot does not protect against the coronavirus pandemic, medicos believe it will help doctors diagnose between the novel disease and seasonal flu.

Health Minister Greg Hunt will today reveal 13.5 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines - costing $80 million - had been secured under the National Immunisation Program for all Australians in a bid to further sandbag the health system in the fight against coronavirus.

Not all Australians can get the vaccine for free, however, pregnant women, indigenous Australians, seniors, those with medical risk and children aged between six months and five years do not have to pay for the shot.

Mr Hunt said the 4 million doses for those aged over 65 years was enough to vaccinate almost all that group.

The Therapeutic Goods Association fast-tracked the application for Fluad Quad, meaning Australia has become the first country in the world to offer the vaccine.



"Receiving a vaccination from April provides optimal protection in the peak period of influenza circulation, usually from June to September in most parts of Australia,'' Mr Hunt said.

"This year it is even more important to be vigilant about the flu because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is not yet a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, vaccination provides an effective defence against the flu.

"Vaccinating against the flu will reduce the risk of a very dangerous double-up of flu and coronavirus - both diseases affecting the respiratory system. Vaccinated people of all ages are less likely to get the flu and if they do, are less likely to have a severe case. Fewer cases and fewer severe cases of flu will result in less demand on our health care system."

In 2017, more than 1100 Australians died from seasonal flu.





Originally published as World-first flu jab free for seniors