Healthy living

Influenza (flu) vaccine

  • Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory system.
  • The annual influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone from 6 months of age.
  • Vaccination is the best protection against influenza and its complications.
  • Based on the most recent medical advice, you can receive the influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, if required.
  • All Western Australians are eligible for a free influenza vaccination until 31 July 2022. 

Free influenza vaccines for Western Australians

The WA Department of Health is providing free influenza vaccinations for all Western Australians until 31 July 2022.

WA is facing a potentially severe influenza season following two years of border closures. This initiative is an extra incentive for the WA community to protect themselves and others against influenza.

The influenza vaccine can be given to individuals from aged from 6 months.

You can receive the free influenza vaccine at participating pharmacies and GPs; and at all State-run vaccination clinics (note that children under 5 years cannot be vaccinated at State-run vaccination clinics).

This is a time-limited program, and available to people in Western Australia who have not already received the influenza vaccine in 2022. Reimbursement for previous vaccinations will not be provided.

 
Free Influenza Vaccination Program frequently asked questions

Download the frequently asked questions (PDF 64KB)

Who can access a free influenza vaccination in June–July 2022?

All Western Australians over the age of 6 months can access a free influenza vaccination until 31 July 2022. Some priority groups are eligible for free influenza vaccination every year for the whole influenza season.

Are there any changes under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)?

There are no changes for people already eligible for a free influenza vaccine under the NIP. People eligible under the NIP should continue to access the influenza vaccine. View the WA Immunisation Schedule (external site).

Can I receive my COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as my influenza vaccine?

Yes.

Do I have to be a WA resident to qualify to receive a free influenza vaccine?

No, this program is available to everyone in WA until 31 July 2022.

Are non-Medicare card holders able to access a free influenza vaccine?

Yes, everyone over the age of 6 months can access a free influenza vaccination, including those who do not have a Medicare card.

I have already received an influenza vaccination prior to 1 June 2022. Can I be reimbursed for the out-of-pocket cost?

No. While the State government is unable to provide financial reimbursement to anyone who paid for their influenza vaccination before 1 June and after 31 July 2022, please know that your efforts to ensure yourself, your family and others around you are protected from influenza are recognised, and we thank you for playing your part this winter.

Where can I get a free influenza vaccination?

Free vaccinations are available through participating general practices and community pharmacies. Ask your local GP and pharmacy if they are part of the program.

COVID-19 vaccination community clinics are also offering free influenza vaccination to persons aged 5 years and above. For clinic locations and times, please visit Roll Up For WA (external site).

Does the influenza vaccine have any side effects?

Some people experience common reactions such as pain, redness and swelling where the injection was given. It is also common to get a low fever and muscle aches. Any medications, including the influenza vaccine can have serious side effects, such as a severe allergic reaction. However, the risk of this is extremely small. Learn more about the possible side effects of immunisation.

Please seek medical advice if symptoms continue or get worse.

Should I report any side effects?

You do not need to report common/minor reactions that are mild and short lasting. You can read more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

Healthcare providers should report:

  • any significant (or rare and unexpected) adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs) in both children and adults
  • any vaccine reaction that requires assessment by a doctor or nurse
  • any vaccine reaction that has affected a family’s confidence in future immunisation.

You can report adverse events even if you are not sure whether the vaccine caused the event.

The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (WAVSS) is the central reporting service in WA for any significant adverse events following immunisation.

Healthcare providers and members of the public can report a possible adverse reaction to a vaccine:

Who can I speak to if I have queries about this program?

Please call 13 COVID (13 26843) for program queries.

For further information, please email immunisation@health.wa.gov.au

Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines

Do I need to have both the influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses and so need different vaccines.

It is recommended to get the influenza vaccine in readiness for the influenza season. This will minimise the possibility of contracting both influenza and COVID-19 infection at the same time and provide greater protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do I need the influenza vaccination if I have had all my COVID-19 vaccinations?

Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Therefore, they need different vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against influenza, so you should still have an influenza vaccine.

If I have COVID-19, is it safe for me to get the influenza vaccine?

It is best to wait until you have fully recovered from COVID-19 before getting the influenza vaccine.

For further information, contact your immunisation provider.

Can I have my COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations at the same time?

Yes, you can now get your influenza vaccination at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccination (co-administered on the same day) as advised by the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI).

Studies show that co-administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines is safe and produces
a good immune response.

Read more detailed guidance about COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccination (external site).

Speak with your immunisation provider to check what is right for you.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

When is the best time to get the influenza vaccine?

For best protection against influenza, people are strongly advised to get the influenza vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing and the vaccine changes accordingly.

The optimal time to get vaccinated is usually Autumn as this provides protection in time for the peak influenza season (usually winter). However, it is never too late to get vaccinated as influenza can circulate in the community all year round.

In June 2022, all Western Australians can access free influenza vaccinations. 

After vaccination it can take up to 2 weeks to develop immunity and protect you from influenza.

Who can receive a free influenza vaccine?

Everyone over 6 months of age is encouraged to get an influenza vaccine seasonally.

** In addition to the advice below throughout June 2022, all Western Australians can access a free influenza vaccination.**

Some groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza and are eligible to receive the free government-funded influenza vaccine:

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

Vaccination is recommended for people who:

I had to have the COVID vaccinations in order to work – is there a mandate for the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is not generally mandatory but is highly recommended for at-risk groups.

Influenza vaccination may be required certain jobs and industries (external site).

Is there anyone who shouldn't get the vaccine?

The only reason not to have an influenza vaccine is following a severe (anaphylactic) reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or to any component of any vaccine. Allergic reactions to an influenza vaccine are rare. Speak with your immunisation provider for advice.

If you are unwell, talk to your immunisation provider about whether to reschedule your vaccination.

Also tell your immunisation provider if you have ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS, a severe illness causing muscle weakness). They will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you. People with a history of GBS have an increased likelihood in general of developing GBS again, and the chance of them coincidentally developing the syndrome following influenza vaccination may be higher than in persons with no history of GBS. Diagnosis of GBS is complex and must be made by a specialist.

Is the influenza vaccine safe?

Yes. All vaccines available in Australia pass strict safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (external site). AusVaxSafety is a national program to monitor the type and rate of reactions to each year's new influenza vaccine. Learn more at NCIRS (external site).

Learn more about vaccination safety.

You cannot get influenza from having an influenza vaccine as it does not contain live or killed virus.

It is possible to be exposed to influenza viruses shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with influenza before protection from the vaccine takes effect.

People may also mistake symptoms of other respiratory viruses for influenza symptoms. The influenza vaccine only protects against influenza disease, not other illnesses.

Where can I get vaccinated?

The influenza vaccine is available from immunisation providers including GPs, community immunisation clinics, community pharmacies and Aboriginal Medical Services.

For further information, contact your immunisation provider.

Throughout June 2022, influenza vaccinations will also be available for Western Australians aged over 5 at COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

What can I do if I have an adverse reaction following influenza vaccination?

Some people experience common reactions such as pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, low grade temperature, muscle aches and/or drowsiness. 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.

Learn more about the possible side effects of immunisation.

Seek medical advice if symptoms continue or get worse.

Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System

The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (WAVSS) is the central reporting service in WA for any significant adverse events following immunisation.

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine:

Why do I need to get the influenza vaccination every year?

The influenza virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine changes every year to ensure protection against the most recent and common circulating strains.

The formulation of influenza vaccines used in Australia is determined each year by the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee based on information and recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

There hasn’t been much influenza in WA, do I need to get vaccinated?

It is important to remain vigilant with influenza. With borders open, it is likely that there will be a resurgence of influenza circulating in the community.

Both viruses circulating at the same time could have severe consequences for vulnerable people and place increased pressure on health systems at a time of year when hospitals are often at their busiest.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from serious disease caused by influenza. By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated.

The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

I'm healthy and rarely get sick. Why do I need the influenza vaccine?

Protect yourself and others

Even healthy people can get very sick from influenza.

While we have taken great care in practicing social and public health measures over the last 2 years, we need to continue protecting those who are at serious risk of complications if they get influenza such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. If they get influenza, complications may include high fever, pneumonia, worsening of other illnesses and in some cases death.

By getting vaccinated each year, you help to protect these vulnerable people from getting sick with influenza, as well as those who are unable to be vaccinated themselves (e.g. children under 6 months are too young to get vaccinated against influenza).

More information

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222
  • Phone the National Immunisation Information Line on 1800 671 811
  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance

Last reviewed: 01-06-2022
Acknowledgements

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?