Influenza, or ‘the flu’, is a highly contagious viral infection. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people became vigilant about social distancing, washing their hands and wearing masks, which all play a role in keeping viral infections at bay. But these measures, along with border closures, also meant that influenza infections during flu season have been at record lows since 2020.
Let’s explore why getting your flu shot this year – perhaps even over and above previous years – is so important and how you might be able to get it for free.
Flu cases in Australia
There were only 598 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Australia to November 2021 and zero flu deaths were recorded in Australia in 2021. Unfortunately, in 2022, the flu appears to be making a significant comeback, with latest figures being 87, 989.
New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have already recorded more cases per individual state than were recorded in the whole country last year.
The numbers are climbing rapidly, which is why people are being urged to get a flu jab as soon as possible.
States offer free flu shots
After the Queensland government announced it would be providing free flu shots for Queenslanders until 30th June 2022, several other states followed suit. Free flu vaccination is now available for people aged over six months in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.
In Tasmania, a Regional Flu Vaccination program is in place which has seen the rollout of free pop-up flu vaccination clinics in Queenstown and Rosebery. People who are at greater risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu jab at their local pharmacy or GP.
Stay up to date with the flu vaccination situation where you live. Web links and contact details for each state and territory’s immunisation health service are available here.
Where to get vaccinated
Free and paid flu shots are available from a range of health services, including pharmacies, GPs, local Council immunisation clinics, community health centres, Aboriginal medical services and some schools. Not all of the above can provide free vaccines so be sure to enquire before making a booking.