What you should know about the Flu shot this year

Confused about the changes to the Flu shot this year? Dr Paddy Mosse provides some very important need to know information below.

“Winter is coming and it’s time to discuss the annual flu vaccination program.

This year there are several flu vaccines available from GPs and Pharmacies and it can be confusing as to which vaccine is for which patients. Here is a quick rundown of the vaccinations that are available. For more info and details regarding more complex patients, please consult the NSW Website here. 

If you are over 65 then the Government are supplying the “super” vaccine, as it has been called in the media. The vaccine contains three different strains of flu and is dosed at a considerably higher quantity than previous vaccines. The purpose of this is to allow older patients to have a good immune response and better protection against the flu this year. It is ONLY available to over 65s and is not available via a private prescription. Although it contains three strains (vs the usual four), it is still better to have for the over 65s, as only 15% of flu infections last year accounted for the missing strain. Sadly a “super” four strain vaccination is years off.

If you are under 65 then there is a four strain vaccination available. This is available via private prescription or, if eligible, under the Government program. You will not be able to have the three strain “super” vaccine.

This year, children are also being encouraged to have the flu vaccine. All children aged 6-35 months should receive the Junior flu vaccine, while children aged 36 months and older should receive the usual flu vaccine. Two doses of flu vaccine at least one month apart are recommended for children aged less than 9 years who are receiving flu vaccine for the first time.

When should you have it? Well, while there may be reasons for having it early, such as foreign travel or unusual circumstances, the AMA and RACGP recommend having the flu vaccine in mid-late April/ early May. This is because the most effective period is in the first 3-4 months and the peak flu season is traditionally in August. Having it earlier may lead to patients not being protected as effectively. The Government vaccines will be available from Mid-April.”- Dr Paddy Mosse