Healthy living

Influenza vaccine

  • Influenza is a highly contagious disease. Some people are at risk of serious health complications if they get influenza.
  • People most at risk of serious complications from flu are eligible for free influenza vaccinations (refer to list in ‘who should get the influenza vaccine’ below).
  • You should get vaccinated against influenza every year.

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a highly contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. For best protection against influenza, people are strongly advised to get the influenza vaccine every year.

Podcast icon Listen to the ABC interview (external link) with Dr Paul Effler, Senior Medical Advisor about flu vaccination. Read the transcript (PDF 217KB).

Why get the influenza vaccine?

Influenza can make existing medical conditions worse, and can cause high fever and pneumonia. It is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose. Good hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of flu and other infections.

Is the influenza vaccine safe?

Yes. Any medicine, including the influenza vaccine, can have potentially serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction. However the risk of this is extremely small.

AusVaxSafety is a national program to monitor the type and rate of reactions to each year's new influenza vaccine. AusVaxSafety data shows more than 92 per cent of people who received the flu vaccine in 2018 had no reactions. Those who did have a reaction had mainly local reactions at the injection site, fever and rash. Learn more at NCIRS (external site).

Learn more about possible side effects of immunisation.

The flu vaccine triggers an immune response that can protect you from becoming ill if you are exposed to the influenza virus.

The flu vaccine cannot cause flu as it is made from the killed virus, not living viruses.

All vaccines available in Australia must pass strict safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site).

Learn more about vaccination safety.

Who should get the influenza vaccine? Can I get it for free?

Everyone is encouraged to get the influenza vaccine. Some groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza and are strongly recommended to get immunised.

The following groups are eligible to receive free government funded influenza vaccinations:

Note: The vaccine is free however you may be charged a consultation fee. Check costs when making an appointment

When should I get the influenza vaccine?

For best protection against influenza, people are strongly advised to get the influenza vaccine every year.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is advised to get the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available.

Note: after vaccination it can take up to 2 weeks to develop protection.

It is never too late to get the flu vaccine.

Where can I get the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is available in metropolitan and country WA from immunisation providers including GP clinics, community health clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services.

trial program (external link) currently allows pharmacies to provide the free flu vaccine to people aged 65 years and over.

For further information, contact your GP or immunisation provider.

More information

Where to get help

  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance
  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222


  • Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious disease.
  • Some people are at risk of serious health complications if they get the flu.
  • Children, pregnant women, people over 65 and people with some existing medical conditions are eligible for free flu vaccinations.
  • You should get vaccinated against the flu every year.

Last reviewed: 06-05-2019

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Where can I get my vaccine?