The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has said that, with COVID-19 currently in the community, it is more important than ever to get the flu shot this year. While the flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, it will help to reduce the severity and spread of seasonal influenza — which can lower a person’s immunity and make them more susceptible to other illnesses. Normally, Australians are advised to wait until mid-April/May to get the jab so as to ensure optimal protection. However, the advice this year is to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. It’s available now from your local medical centre. Also, the Aboriginal Medical Service is offering free flu vaccinations to community members. The clinics will operate at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence — 166-180 George St, Redfern NSW 2016 — Thursday 14 May to Saturday 16 May.
The flu shot is free for the following groups:
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over;
- all children aged six months to less than five years of age (including Aboriginal and medically at risk);
- all individuals aged five years and over with medical risk conditions, namely: cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure;
- people with chronic respiratory conditions, including suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma;
- other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the previous year, including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies;
- chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and seizure disorders;
- people with impaired immunity, including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use;
- children aged six months to 10 years on long-term aspirin therapy;
- pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy);
- people aged 65 years and over (vaccine that is specifically designed to produce a higher immune response is available for this group).