Flu season may be a few months away, but the time to get the influenza vaccine is just around the corner.
Two million more flu vaccinations were administered in Australia in the first half of last year compared to the same period in 2019.
Social distancing, increased hand hygiene and school closures due to the pandemic all contributed to a massive decline in flu diagnoses and deaths in 2020, experts say.
However, the flu vaccine is key to reducing the severity and spread of seasonal influenza.
Here’s what you need to know about getting your flu and COVID vaccines this year:
The flu vaccine will be available from April 2021.
It is recommended that all people over the age of six months get the annual influenza vaccination.
The best time to get the vaccination is before the start of the flu season (typically between June and September), as optimal protection is in the first three to four months after getting the shot.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the body that advises the federal Health Department, says protection from the flu vaccine is generally expected to last throughout the year.
Can I get the flu vaccine and COVID vaccine on the same day?
No. It is not recommended that you are given the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine on the same day.
The minimum amount of time recommended between the two vaccines is 14 days.
This applies for both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
You can have your flu vaccine before or after your COVID vaccine, as long as you wait those 14 days.
However, when scheduling your vaccinations, ATAGI recommends:
If you are in the Phase 1a of the COVID vaccine, get it as soon as possible and then get the flu shot.
If you are in a later phase of the COVID vaccine rollout, get your flu shot as soon as it is available, then your COVID vaccine when possible
When can I get my COVID vaccine?
The COVID vaccine is currently available to people in Phase 1a and Phase 1b of the roll-out.
These phases prioritise quarantine, border and frontline healthcare workers, as well as elderly adults and adults with a specified medical condition.
If you are in either phase, you can use the federal government’s vaccine eligibility checker to see a list of GPs giving the COVID vaccine in your area.